A hidden group of young kinship carers: The young and “care-full” research project

Foster and kinship care
Thursday 26 July, 1100 – 1120


Dr Meredith Kiraly
University of Melbourne

The number of children being placed in protective kinship care in Australia has risen dramatically in recent years; however, most kinship care arrangements are still made informally. It is widely believed that most kinship carers are grandparents. Less well understood are care arrangements with aunts/uncles, siblings and other relatives, some of whom may be quite young. While some research has taken place regarding young carers of vulnerable adults, no such attention has yet been paid to young kinship carers with full-time independent responsibility for related children. However, recent British research has identified considerable numbers of sibling kinship carers living in poverty and forgoing educational and employment opportunities.

This presentation will describe the findings of a funded two-year research project examining the prevalence and circumstances of young kinship carers providing 24/7 care in independent households. The project included analysis of census data, in-depth interviews with young kinship carers and children/young people, and the establishment of a pilot support service for young kinship carers across Australia.

Surprisingly, large numbers of independent young kinship carers have been identified, many of whom are also raising their own children. Significant life opportunity costs for these young adults will be described; what mattered most to them was to be recognised. Research results are being used to advocate for recognition of this hidden group of carers, and for better services to meet their needs and those of children in their care.
A young kinship carer is anticipated be available to co-present this paper.