Ed Davey on kinship care and his experience

Ed Davey spoke to Jason Farrell, Sky News’ home editor about his own experience of kinship caring. Ed explained his grandparent’s involvement in his own upbringing and how his maternal grandfather and mother were critical to looking after him after the death of this father when he was just four. Ed spoke movingly, at times tearfully, about his mother’s illness and how that created strain between his mother and grandmother. When his mother died 11 years later, his grandparents looked after him full-time while living with the loss of their only child. Kinship care, where grandparents are supported and encouraged in looking after grandchildren alongside foster or adoptive parents, is the best form of care he says.


The interview was triggered by the publication of the final report from the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England. Ed welcomed the report but said “It is nowhere near ambitious enough”, adding:

No one answers the question of the problems many of our young people are facing in care when they lose a loved one or their parents are unable to look after them. So, I think they need to get behind Munira Wilson’s idea of funding a kinship carers allowance. They need to be much more supportive of kinship carers. I am afraid that this report doesn’t even touch the sides.

Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England

The review report concluded:

This moment is a once in a generation opportunity to reset children’s social care. What we need is a system that provides intensive help to families in crisis, acts decisively in response to abuse, unlocks the potential of wider family networks to raise children, puts lifelong loving relationships at the heart of the care system and lays the foundations for a good life for those who have been in care.

What we have currently is a system increasingly skewed to crisis intervention, with outcomes for children that continue to be unacceptably poor and costs that continue to rise. For these reasons, a radical reset is now unavoidable

While relationships are rich and organic, children’s social care can be rigid and linear. Rather than drawing on and supporting family and community, the system too often tries to replace organic bonds and relationships with professionals and services…

By this time next decade there will be approaching 100,000 children in care (up from 80,000 today) and a flawed system will cost over £15 billion per year (up from £10 billion now). Together, the changes we recommend will shift these trends and would mean 30,000 more children living safely and thriving with their families by 2032 compared to the current trajectory.

The report made three main recommendations:

  1. We should trust social workers to act in the best interests of children. When it comes to reviewing the care for a child, social workers have the relationship with a child and alongside their manager they should be supported and be responsible for making a best interest assessment.
  2. Genuinely independent advocacy for children in care should be opt-out, not opt-in. Children in care should have access to an adult that is unequivocally on their side and solely focused on making sure they are heard, which is particularly important when things go wrong with the care they receive.
  3. The gravity of the decision to remove children from their parents needs an independent second opinion. Therefore, the role of an independent Cafcass guardian is needed.
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  • The last three points are not the three main recommendations of the report, they are the three suggested prinicples for children’s advocacy within the process. There is already a CAFCASS guardian automatically appointed a party for all care proceedings. The report was highlighting their input is valuable. I do think caution should be urged when making statements like ‘kinship is the best form of care’ as it is sadly not always the case. Non-kinship fostering and adoption must be a last resort. It is down to professionals and courts in each case to assess what is best for individual children. It is certainly a travesty if kinship placements are not viable due to financial concerns though.

  • Steve Trevethan 2nd Feb '23 - 5:59pm

    Might it be that children’s’ caring and advocacy is affected to controlled by the socio-economic theories and practices of society?
    Does the current dominant socio-economic policy, and its practices, of Neoliberalism do a good enough job for the advocacy, support and enablement of cared for children and children generally?
    Might our party espouse, advocate and apply socio-economic theories and practices which support caring and children better?

  • Chris Moore 2nd Feb '23 - 7:03pm

    “Neo-Liberalism” is not dominant.

    All main parties support a mixed economy with transfers to the poorer off. The devil is in the detail, not in over-arching ideological disagreements.

  • Chris Moore 2nd Feb '23 - 7:23pm

    Ed Davey is the likeliest leader of the current crops of MPs. He may not be particularly charismatic – a common criticism on here – but he’s decent and solid and has a lot of personal experience of loss and getting through.

    We have a convincing stance on social care, health, pollution in rivers and so forth. We have a lot of latent support we can capitalise on, once we get more media coverage.

    Now let’s be bolder on Europe without alienating Brexit voters. It can be done with tact and understanding of where liberal-minded Brexit voters are coming from. We need their vote to get over the line in Remain seats.

  • Zachary Adam Barker 2nd Feb '23 - 8:41pm

    “Ed Davey is the likeliest leader of the current crops of MPs”

    Then perhaps we should consider allowing the party leader to come from outside of the Commons to increase the talent pool.

  • Steve Trevethan 3rd Feb '23 - 8:12am

    Might the frequent/consistent use of overt and unstated “Austerity” be an indicator of the power of Neo-Liberal Socio-Economics?
    Ditto the policy of reducing the pay of public servants combined with no governmental management of Shell profits?
    Might “our” Austerity” have harmed cared for children more than shareholders?

  • Chris Moore 3rd Feb '23 - 10:26am

    I don’t see anything mean-spirited in the comments, Paul.

    Personally, I think Ed’s the best leader we’ve had for many years. Unlike some of his critics on LDV, I, for one, prefer non-charismatic leaders.

    He’s done well to get the party off its eternal hobby horses and develop an approach and policy that can appeal to the voters we alienated in our single issue phase.

  • Nonconformistradical 3rd Feb '23 - 10:43am

    I agree with Chris Moore.

    Charisma without political nous is dangerous. Politics is the art of the possible.

    I beleive Ed also has a good track record as a constituency MP.

  • Nonconformistical – Fine but let’s remember that it is virtually impossible to hold a Lib Dem seat without being a good constituency MP!

  • Suzanne Fletcher 3rd Feb '23 - 5:12pm

    I started by being very pleased about this article, that it is being said, and Ed has done it well.
    However when I got to the 3 main recommendations there was no mention of finance? unless I have missed something.
    We did debate this at conference some years ago, I think Gordon Lishman moved it or spoke well. I had an intervention.
    I know people in the community who have been kinship carers, and when I worked at CAB we did see quite a number of grandparents who were stepping into the role, usually because of addictions of the parent (s) but had terrible difficulty with finances. They just didn’t qualify for £ for not just the day to day expenses until Child Benefit was sorted out, but capital such as having to buy beds, bedding and such as well as essential clothing.
    Systems may have changed in the last 8 years, but if not we Lib Dems need to be speaking out loudly on the need fodr appropriate financial help.

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