Kinship Care

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

Reforming the law to facilitate kinship care for children.

The problem

Kinship care has been defined as:

“Any situation in which a child is being raised in the care of a friend or family member who is not their parent for a significant amount of the time. The arrangement may be temporary or longer term.”

(Department for Education, Stable Homes, Built on Love: Implementation Strategy and Consultation (February 2023) p 85)

More than 130,000 children live in kinship care arrangements in England. Most commonly, kinship care will be an alternative to the child entering the care system, or a way of caring for a child who is the subject of a care order.

The variety of methods by which kinship care can be formalised, including by way of special guardianship orders, child arrangements orders and by fostering, is complex to navigate, and confusing, for kinship carers, who do not feel always confident that the order underpinning their arrangement is right for their circumstances. The project will consider the scope for reform to simplify and streamline the orders available to kinship carers, and how to better support the consideration of kinship care as an option for looked after children.

The project

The project has been referred to us as part of the Government’s kinship strategy, published as Championing Kinship Care – The National Kinship Care Strategy, in December 2023. The aim of the project would be to reform the law to facilitate kinship care for children and, in particular to consider:

  • producing a legal definition of kinship care;
  • how current orders, including child arrangements orders and special guardianship orders are working for kinship carers;
  • the assessment and approval process for kinship carers; and
  • the potential for reform of such orders in the kinship care context, including considering the possibility of a new bespoke order for this situation.

The project would not consider:

  • the reform of orders, such as child arrangements orders and special guardianship orders, beyond their application in kinship care; and
  • issues that can best be addressed by changes to practice, procedure and funding (rather than statutory reform), in particular changes to legal aid or financial allowances for kinship carers, as these fall outside the Commission’s remit.

The project would aim to deliver benefits of improved efficiency and simplicity in the applicable law; and, most importantly, of increased fairness and of supporting social justice, for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Next steps

The Commission has agreed to take on the project but, due to its resources being fully engaged on active projects, it is not yet in a position to start work in this area. We will update this web page when we begin the project.


For general enquiries, please contact us by email at

Project details

Area of law

Property, family and trust law


Professor Nicholas Hopkins