Becoming and Being: Special Guardians’ Stories of Kinship Care

Prof Doc Thesis

Glynn, G. 2019. Becoming and Being: Special Guardians’ Stories of Kinship Care. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsGlynn, G.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Kinship care is a widespread alternative living arrangement for children who cannot live with their birth parents. Recently, the UK government legally formalised this arrangement with the introduction of the Special Guardianship Order (SGO). However, research has shown having the legal order does not guarantee Special Guardians (SGs) the financial or psychological support from services they need for themselves and their families. Research so far has used national data and interviews to examine the experience of SG families.
However, a gap exists in understanding the intersection of the complex factors which impact upon carer’s lives, and what sense they make of these factors.

Interviews were completed with four female SGs. A narrative analysis was undertaken by applying performative and dialogical narrative questions to explore how each Guardian made sense of caring for someone else’s child. The narratives were analysed in relation to the transition and experience of being a carer; with a focus on their identity, the systems and professionals involved in their networks and wider contextual factors.

The narratives created highlighted the contested nature of SG’s identities as they strove to be accepted as capable caregivers by others. The personal and professional systems were portrayed as adversarial which resulted in narratives of confrontation and survival. Thus, out of necessity, and through a desire to defend their identities and protect their children, SGs have had to fight to secure resources. Often in circumstances that have provided little certainty or support to them. This has left them feeling isolated and worn down.

In situating themselves as battling with the professional system, the emotional impact of Guardianship was discussed. In addition, the assessment process was portrayed as demanding and SG’s status in relation to foster carers was compared to emphasise the perception that they have been forgotten and used by professionals and the wider system. Implications for these findings and recommendations for future practice and research will be provided.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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PrintAug 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited14 Nov 2019
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