Carers and representatives gathered yesterday at the Caledonian Stadium in Inverness to mark the beginning of Kinship Care Week.
The event, organised by Citizens Advice Scotland, brought carers together with activities and workshops taking place.
Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd attended the home of Inverness Caledonian Thistle to kick off the event, addressing the gathered audience.
Ms Todd said: “Kinship care is a hugely important part of our care system, with over a quarter of looked after children and young people placed with someone they are related to.
“This allows the child to maintain their connections with their families which increases their wellbeing, their sense of belonging and stability. Kinship Care Week is a great opportunity to recognise the vital difference that kinship carers make every day to children and families across Scotland.”
There was also a surprise appearance from Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Robertson, who has served as an ambassador for kinship care in the past.
Susan Hunter, project coordinator for Citizens Advice Scotland said: “Carers experience a lot of difficulties and their lives change when they take on children. There are financial implications and practical implications because your life has totally changed.
“It’s all done through love and it is done for the children to give them a loving and settled background.
“The whole week is about valuing kinship care whilst raising awareness and celebrating it.”
Events yesterday were aimed at supporting carers by addressing issues and reinstating confidence and parenting ability in those who take on children.
Heather McVeigh of Mentor UK said: “It is really important we do this to raise awareness of kinship care across Scotland. It is such a valuable thing that people do and it is still very much unknown.
“Kinship care just happens naturally – it’s still some of that tradition that it is expected that family members take on other members of the family, but actually when doing that some of these young children have been through a lot of turmoil in their own personal lives.”
Georgiana Bugeag, regional officer for Kinship Care Scotland, said: “I wasn’t expecting to have this many people here. The activities have been really interesting and it has been great to raise more awareness.
“Kinship carers need more access to advice such as legal advice and financial advice as they don’t know what services are available to them, and we want to make sure these people know where they can gain that help.”
In total across Scotland, there are 4,138 looked after children who are in Kinship care.