Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has backed a call to give family carers more parental powers.
The Kinship Carers (Parental Responsibility Agreements) bill aims to assist grandparents, siblings, uncles and aunts, who are bringing up vulnerable children who would otherwise be in care.
There are an estimated 300,000 children currently living with relatives who have stepped in to care for a child because of parental difficulties, mental or physical ill health, domestic abuse, alcohol or substance misuse, imprisonment or bereavement.
The Family Rights Group describes these carers and the children they care for as “the forgotten families of family policy”.
The aim of the Motion is to extend the current system of Parental Responsibility Agreements to allow close relatives to obtain parental responsibility for a child they are raising, without having to go to court to get a Residence Order or Special Guardianship Order.
As well as gaining the support of the Sefton Central Labour MP, the bill is also backed by David Blunkett, Helen Grant, Paul Goggins, Kate Green, Andrew Gwynne; Sharon Hodgson, Alan Johnson, David Lammy, Lisa Nandy, Priti Patel and Jamie Reed, as well as Action for Prisoners Families; Family Rights Group; The Fostering Network; The Grandparents’ Association; Grandparents Plus; Mentor UK; National Children’s Bureau; The Who Cares? Trust; PACT; and TACT.
Bill Esterson said: “By getting parental responsibility it would give the family carer the authority to agree, for example, to the child going on school trips and getting medical and dental treatment. It would give them more ammunition to be consulted/recognised in their dealings with professionals and agencies, and would also help them prove their entitlement to child benefit and tax credits.
"This route minimises the huge disruption to family dynamics involved in bringing a case to court, enabling families to function during periods of crisis.
"This proposal does not involve any spending commitment – in fact, it goes a little way to supporting carers who save the state an estimated £12 billion it would cost if the children were in independent foster care.”