I am grateful to Eddie Gallagher for bringing a new report to my attention. “It’s been an absolute nightmare”, Family violence in kinship care, was published by Baptcare in September 2017. The report, written by Rachel Breman and Ann MacRae, draws on the responses to a survey of kinship carers in the state of Victoria, into the types, frequency and impact of family violence directed towards the kinship care placement, from close family members or from the child themselves. This group of people offers care to children in both statutory and voluntary placements, the true number of which may be significantly higher than the number known about. They were found to be particularly under-supported, and experienced additional risks, threats and actual violence because of the family link. Violence and abuse from the children and young people themselves was associated with the experience of trauma and attachment issues. There is an interesting section on the reasons these families find it difficult to report the abuse. Recommendations are made for better understanding, training and service provision for these families.
Many of the issues will resonate for those familiar with the experience of abuse by foster and adoptive parents, but there are specific additional risks and issues identified, including the often unplanned and sudden nature of the placement, the loss of employment and life plans, as well as ongoing relationships with the child’s parents. Where the arrangement was informal, there were real problems in accessing therapeutic help.
Baptcare has produced a number of videos about their work which are available on YouTube. In this one Ann MacRae and two kinship carers talk about their experiences and the findings of the research project.