Case Studies

Case Study: Marlene

Marlene is a 70 year old pensioner and a kinship carer who looks after her 9 year old grandson Paul.

When her son Simon was made redundant things went downhill for him rapidly, culminating in Marlene’s discovery that he and his wife Suzi were using drugs. Marlene was particularly concerned about Paul as he would shout and scream when it was time to go home from his grandparents.

In December 2001 Simon begged his mum to look after Paul as he realised he and Suzi couldn’t cope. “Give us a few months to get back on our feet and then we will take him back.” Marlene agreed to look after Paul with the belief that it would be for a short time and then Paul could return home.

Then a day later, double tragedy: Simon died from a heroin overdose and Suzi killed herself. Now Paul had no-one except his grandparents.

Marlene was utterly unprepared for her new role. She had no clothes, furniture or room for Paul. The strain of looking after him was considerable. She became depressed and tired. As he grew up, it was clear that Paul had issues – he would hit out at Marlene, cry and wet the bed. Marlene didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. She needed help but didn’t want to go to her friends as she was too ashamed of how badly things had turned out.

Then one day while taking Paul to the dentist she noticed a poster on the wall from her local children and families social work team. Of course, why had she never thought of them before? But then she panicked, what if they would try and take Paul away, should she have contacted them when Simon and Suzi died, would they think that she should not be looking after Paul?

Finally Marlene decided that she had to seek help and visited her local social work office. She found that they were helpful and although they couldn’t offer her concentrated support, as Paul was not classed as “looked after”, they informed her that they would try and offer support as Paul could be classed as a “child in need”. They also provided her with names of support groups which they said might help.

On the day of her first meeting at the support group she was at the end of her tether because of Paul’s behaviour. She said nothing at first but sat back and listened, tears running down her face. For the first time in nine years Marlene could tell her story. She left a new woman, ready to face life again.

Marlene has become a committed member of the group. Paul still has problems but Marlene is more confident in challenging him and helping him to deal with them. She is determined to help others in the same situation and regularly supports other kinship carers so that they do not have to go through the same traumas as she did.

Financial case studies…

The following case studies are examples. Please note that not all Local Authorities pay in the same way. Always check with the appropriate body as listed on the previous pages.

Kevin and Kathryn

Kevin and Kathryn are both in their 70s, living in a flat that they own. They receive:

  • Two state pensions and one occupational pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Council Tax Reduction

They start to look after their two grandchildren, Lauren aged 13 and Jake aged 11, after their mother dies. The children’s father is in prison. This is an informal arrangement made by the family so the children are ‘non looked after’.

Now Kevin and Kathryn receive:
  • Child Benefit, paid for each child
  • Child Tax Credit, with amounts paid for each child
  • Guardian’s Allowance, paid for each child
  • Their state pensions and occupational pension, as before
  • Pension Credit, as before (the amount of Pension Credit is not affected by the Child Benefit or Guardian’s Allowance they now receive)
  • Council Tax Reduction

They do not receive:

  • Kinship care payments from their Local Authority


Joan is a 55 year old single woman who was widowed two years ago. She is unemployed and lives alone. She receives:

  • Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Reduction

Joan’s three year old grandson Billy comes to live with her. This arrangement was made between Joan and Billy’s mum, with no social work involvement.

Now Joan receives:
  • Income Support (which she can claim on the grounds of being a lone parent)
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Reduction

Joan does not receive:

  • Kinship care payments from her Local Authority
Always contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice on what you are entitled to as a kinship carer. For more details see