The United Nations International Day of Families happens annually on 15th of May, and here at Family For Every Child, we joined the celebration. This year, the global focus of the day’s observance was to raise awareness of the impact of demographic trends on families.
Demographic change is one of the most important megatrends affecting the lives and well-being of families, significantly impacted by fertility and mortality patterns. Declining fertility rates can result in benefits for families, because these can mean that families have fewer children, but more time and resources available to invest in their children’s health and education.
But, fertility declines also result in smaller families that are less likely to cope with unexpected disasters, illnesses and care obligations. This then means that in times of unemployment or hardship, families have fewer members to rely on. This issue is closely linked to one of our focuses here at Family: the use of, and lack of support for Kinship Care.
At Family for Every Child, we are focusing on Kinship Care, because it is one of the most common forms of alternative care for children, but there is a global lack of support or recognition for kinship carers. With support from our donors, and together with our alliance, we are developing a global guidance framework on kinship care, aimed at policy makers and programme managers.
What does this mean?
It means that we are working together to convince governments, UN agencies and NGO’s around the world that there is an urgent, real need to prioritise support for kinship care. This work will also outline what is needed to implement this support, with real life examples of promising practice from our global community of practitioners.
Why is this kind of work needed?
This kind of guidance is needed as evidence from across the world to show that kinship is widely neglected. Kinship carers are often left to look after highly vulnerable children with no or minimal assistance. But, when those engaged in care reform do acknowledge the importance of supporting kinship care, they are often unsure about how to offer this support. There is a tendency to provide simplistic solutions which do not acknowledge that kinship carers may need different types of support to parents, or a lack of understanding of the varying needs across the different settings and contexts in which children end up being cared for by kin.
We are drawing on extensive research on kinship care carried out by Family for Every Child, and our alliance members across the world. We’re then using this research to build on the UN’s Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, to guide a global conversation around kinship care.
This year, for International Day of Families, we raise a toast to families worldwide, and recognise that a family can come in all different combinations, forms, shapes and sizes. We also suggest that kinship care should always be considered as an option for children who cannot be cared for by parents, and that many families need further support to care for children well.
You can read our key position notes on kinship care over here.