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Today In Cheerful News

May 11, 2010

A woman in Kent (who can’t be named) has won a court case that means she will receive the same amount of financial support for caring for her granddaughter as any other foster carer would.

Which is good, because children don’t magically get cheaper to care for if you’re related to them. And it’s good, too, because it challenges the assumptions that, regardless of the financial implications, grandparents can be used as impromtu babysitters.

And, of course, the only person who always has default legal parental responsibility for a child is that child’s mother. Not necessarily the father, unless the parents were married at the time, or unless he acquires it himself, and not the grandparents, unless they adopt the child. Which means that grandparents have no duty of care towards their grandchildren. I’ll repeat that, because it’s important: grandparents have no duty of care towards their grandchildren. They are not, legally, expected to care for, protect, or make life decisions on behalf of their grandchildren. And yet the fostering system – which this woman challenged – was set up in such a way that it paid grandparents less for caring for their grandchildren than it would have paid somebody who wasn’t related to the child.

So the outcome of this court case is great. Although I’ve been talking about grandparents, this is a story about how much we as a society value “womens’ work”.

Her response: “It means so much both to me and my granddaughter. Teenagers are very expensive to bring up – every parent knows that.

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