Tag Archives: kinship care

Violence to grandparents in kinship care roles

The show must go on as they say, and so the launch of findings from a research project investigating violence towards grandparents took place this week with all the requisite fanfare – but online rather than as originally envisaged! Perhaps it is a metaphor for the situation experienced by the 27 grandparents interviewed for this study by Dr Amanda Holt and Dr Jenny Birchall, in that their life had taken a sudden and often dramatic change of course with the arrival of the grandchildren they were caring for.

This is the first qualitative research project in the UK to explore the experiences of grandparents who are subject to violence and/ or abusive behaviour from their grandchildren, with whom they are in a kinship care relationship; and took place between June 2018 and January 2020. The individuals had been recruited specifically because they had experienced abuse, and all described shocking and often daily experiences of violence and abuse directed towards them as well as to property, sometimes involving weapons and leading to extreme injuries. While there were a variety of “triggers” the respondents were unanimous in attributing the abuse to the trauma and loss the children had experienced (most often as a result of domestic abuse, mental health problems, substance use or child abuse / neglect). Grandparents play a vital role when they step-up, in keeping children out of the care system, and out of the youth justice system, but the difficulties implicit in such placements are poorly recognised, whether with regards to the relationship with the grandchildren – or indeed their own children. Unsurprisingly, given how little known and understood this aspect of family violence remains, all the grandparents reported problems accessing help and support from a range of services. Interestingly the police were often reported to have been the most responsive and compassionate. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for policy and practice, from a universal and early intervention stage, through very specific tailored support, including a change in mindset and proper funding.

This research project has shown how much broader we need to be thinking in terms of violence within the home. While we have become accustomed to thinking about domestic abuse / intimate partner violence and child abuse, with a developing understanding of elder abuse and even child / adolescent to parent violence, this aspect of abuse towards grandparents (and kinship carers) has been sorely neglected in study, policy and provision. The call for greater training, support, research – and importantly funding – outlines some very specific avenues for development. It is crucial that we offer support early on in these families’ journeys. To ignore them merely adds to the distress, trauma, injury and hardship further down the line, both for the children and for those who have made unexpected changes to their life plans to accommodate their needs.

For more information about the research study I can heartily recommend the project website, which has been created in lieu of a national launch. It’s easy to navigate and really accessible with clear sections explaining the research project itself, with information generally about children’s violence to grandparents, about Amanda, and signposting to help for those impacted. Finally, the website includes a podcast in which Amanda talks about the project and discusses the findings with Lucy Peake, CEO of Grandparents Plus, John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development with CoramBAAF, and Dunston Patterson, Youth Justice Effective Practice Adviser.

This is an important piece of work, broadening our knowledge about violence within families, and shining a light on this hitherto neglected area. Congratulations to Amanda and Jenny!

 

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Violence against Grandparents: Finding out more 

I am very pleased to post this information and request from Dr Amanda Holt, who has been instrumental in bringing about wider knowledge and understanding of child (and adolescent) to parent violence. She is now about to begin some research into violence and abuse towards grandparents, from their grandchildren, and is interested to hear from practitioners, and ultimately grandparents, with awareness and experience of this.  

As Helen impressively documents, there is a useful research literature developing on adolescent-to-parent violence/abuse, and this is giving us some insights into who, where, how and perhaps why we are seeing this problem across a range of families. However, there is very little research into violence against grandparents, yet I am hearing from practitioners that many grandparents attend CPV support programmes because they are experiencing violence from their grandchild. Many of these grandparents are involved in kinship care arrangements with their grandchild(ren), whether arranged formally (e.g. through a Special Guardianship Order, for example) or informally. A recent survey of 101 kinship carers in Australia found that nearly half (46%) of carers (the majority of whom were grandparents) reported violent behaviour from the child they were caring for and which, in 89% of cases, was directed towards them. As with CPV, verbal abuse, psychological abuse and physical aggression were all reported and the impacts mirrored those commonly experienced by parents who experience violence from their children: stress, mental health problems, physical health problems, additional family conflicts and social isolation. Continue reading

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Kinship Care Survey

Grandparents Plus would like your help with their Kinship Care State of the Nation Survey.

 

If you are involved in kinship care in the UK, whether recently or for the long haul, please do take ten minutes to complete the survey which you can find here.

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“It’s been an absolute nightmare”: report from Australia into kinship care

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. Continue reading

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