The Workforce

Supporting a young person as a kinship carer

Are you a kinship carer looking for how to best support the young person(s) you care for? Here you will find some advice and practical information to support young people in kinship care.

As a kinship carer, you may be related to the young person you care for but that is not always the case. Kinship care can be complicated and definitions can be barriers to accessing support. Whatever your circumstances, there are some things we can all do to support young people better. The most important thing when supporting young people with care experience is to create a positive, trusting relationship. This may already be the case and you may just be looking for more practical advice. Still, there are some things that you may want to consider when supporting a young person in kinship care. Depending on what circumstances led to the child(s) being placed in kinship care, they may be experiencing some difficult life experiences or trauma. You may also have faced difficulties and hardship before and during the placement. Asking for support can be difficult – as kinship carer you may feel a duty to just get on with it but it is important for you and the young people you care for that you access all the support and advice you are entitled to.

Young people with care experience may exhibit some challenging behaviour due to the experiences they have faced – this can be challenging and frustrating to deal with as a kinship carer. How we perceive and interpret these behaviours influence how we react to them. Some young people may struggle with things like:

  • Trust – being distrusting of adults and professionals.
  • Be defiant – hard to compromise with.
  • May struggle to concentrate & focus – which can make school difficult.
  • May isolate themselves – which can lead to issues with socialising.
  • May struggle to make or maintain relationships with peers – this can lead to further isolation.

If the young person you care for is experiencing any of these things, you may want to consider speaking to them about ways you can both address them, such as:

  • Counselling/therapy – from talking therapies to art therapy.
  • Virtual head teacher support – to support young people in schools.
  • Ask for local authority support – they are there to help and not judge families.

These are just suggestions – depending on circumstances, these may not be options.

Some things you may want to consider to support a young person:

  • Speaking to them honestly and openly about their feelings
  • Validating their story, their truth and their perceptions.
  • Being able to answer any questions they may have about their childhood, experiences and identity.
  • Look at ways you can both support each other – practically (household duties) emotionally (being available for advice) and socially (having fun together)
  • Ask what they need and how you can best support them.

You might find it helpful to seek for advice from people who have experience as a kinship carer and other experts. Fortunately there is the National Kinship Care Advice service for Scotland:

Helpline: 0808 800 0006 (Monday to Friday 10am-2.30pm)



You can also get information and support from:

  • Your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau - find out where to get advice
  • The social work or children’s services department at your council - if the child you care for has recently been living in a different local council, you'll normally need to deal with that local council
  • Local support groups - you can meet up with other kinship carers to share experiences. The local council or the Citizens Advice Bureau can help you find a group in your area

Here you can find more information on trauma and how to support young people who have faced difficulties and disruption - Developmental trauma information pack.

Remember, it is okay to find it difficult sometimes. Focussing on the relationship can be a pathway for home life to become more stable.

You can also find support through local kinship care groups by searching here

You can also visit Adoptionuk's Kinship care advice service on their website for support and advice for kinship carers here

Staf hold regular 'A brew and a blether' groups for carers to come together to meet up with other carers and hear how things are going for them, talk about the issues that you are facing as well as being a supportive force for carers like you. To find out more visit - here

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