WHEN children are taken into care, they are often put in the custody of relatives when they would otherwise be put into foster care. Kinship carers, usually grandparents, are often forgotten about and one Dumbarton-based group is helping to promote awareness of their situation.

As the Reporter went to press yesterday (Monday), a National Kinship Alliance launched in Glasgow's City Chambers at a conference attended by 100 kinship carers from across the country as well as MSPs and councillors including Dumbarton and Vale MSP Jackie Baillie and Councillor Michelle Stewart. Anne Swartz, chairwoman of Kinship Care West Dunbartonshire, has been a carer for her three grandchildren for eight years.

She told the Reporter: "I started to look at what was there in West Dunbartonshire and found nothing, the reason this national alliance is being launched is the government's 'Children and Young People's Bill' which is coming in so we can challenge any aspects of this we disagree with.

"All of us together will make a stronger voice for the government, we have all got fed up with their tactics. The Dumbarton woman says people don't realise the challenges kinship carers face.

She added: "You go from being a working adult to caring for children at home, it can lead to isolation. Your day ends at three o'clock when they finish school.

"A lot of carers have been away from the childcare scenario for 20 or 30 years."

A report published in 2011 by the charity Buttle UK showed the gap in support for children in kinship care in Scotland - there are 15,000 children in kinship care while there are just 1,736 children recognised and supported in this situation.

Anne continued: "We want to be the ones the government come to, the money they are giving to organisations to look into kinship care is a waste, they already know the issues they do not need to be told them again.

"We hope that we are able to influence these people that we are the first port of call when it comes to kinship care.

"Come to the kinship carers, they'll tell you about kinship care. We have been doing it for years.

"We want this day to highlight the plight of these children who are maligned further into poverty and into a life where they have to rely on benefits."

Kinship Care West Dunbartonshire meet every Friday in St Augustine's Church, Dumbarton at 10.30am.

To find out more call 0781 753 8463 or via email at kinshipcarewestdunbartonshire@gmail.com.