Researcher: Jill Davey
It is estimated that 300,000 children, defined as a person below the age of 18 years old, (Office of National Statistics, 2011) within the United Kingdom (UK) are being raised by relatives and friends, who are typically grandparents, aunts, uncles, or siblings. These relatives are typically raising the child because of parental mental or physical ill health, learning disabilities, domestic abuse, alcohol or substance misuse, imprisonment or bereavement (Hunt & Waterhouse, 2012). This figure reflects approximately 2% of the 13.3 million child population residing in England, Scotland & Wales (National Office of Statistics, 2013). ‘Kinship care’ (otherwise known as ‘Family & friends care’) is seen as a suitable option for children who cannot remain safely with their biological parents and has increased dramatically in the last decade (Farmer & Moyers, 2008).
In South Africa (SA) it is estimated that there are currently 3.7 million maternal orphans (UNICEF, 2012). In nearly every sub-Saharan country, extended families have assumed responsibility for more than 90% of orphaned children (UNICEF, 2012). Due to the HIV/AIDS pandemics (Pitcher, 2014), the number of orphaned children is increasing and whilst the vast majority of orphans in sub-Saharan Africa continue to be taken in by the extended family this traditional support system is under pressure (Murove, 2009). September (2006) suggests that the structures and processes for responding to kinship care in South Africa are the same as those within and between all the developed and developing or high and low income countries.
This project develops case studies of kinship care in the South West of England and Zululand, South Africa, using an ethnographic case study approach. The study explores the unique experiences of kinship carers’ providing kinship care placements and considers the phenomenon of kinship care in the context of current UK and SA legislation, policy and social work.
The research study will focus on both kinship carers’ and social workers’ experiences and perspectives of kinship care. The new (2010) South African Childcare legislation and the current UK legislation (Children Act, 1989, 2004) are examined in respect of kinship care. Motivational factors that contribute to kinship care placements is explored as is the lack of consideration in the literature of motivational factors in relation to the permanency of kinship care placements.
A contribution to new knowledge is made by undertaking a case study of kinship care from kinship carer perspectives, in both South Africa (Zululand) and the United Kingdom (South West England). New knowledge will be clearly identified and considered in the context of social work development and methodological analysis deriving from a cross cultural study.