The valuable work of foster carers has today been recognised by Somerset County Council’s Cabinet as they approved a scheme to pay them.
Previously, foster carers only received an allowance to cover the cost of looking after a child, which pays for utility bills, clothes, food and pocket money. Only foster carers providing specialist placements have been paid fees for the care they provide to a child.
Now all foster carers will be paid a fee as well as the allowance and will start on a progression scheme which allows them to earn more as they build up their experiences, skills and learning. This new scheme aims to help recruit more foster carers and improve the retention of existing foster carers.
Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Foster carers do not come into fostering for the money but we understand that people need to pay their mortgage and bills and many people can’t afford to foster full time. This new pay and progression scheme will open up the possibility of fostering for lots of people, attract people who otherwise could not afford to foster and people working as foster carers for other agencies. It will also help prevent people already fostering from giving up for financial reasons and mean that those who are considering fostering are more likely to choose Somerset County Council, as it will put us in a more competitive position with other agencies.
“We value the work our foster carers do and we recognise the skills and experience they develop as part of their role. It is important to reward them as well as supporting them with training and giving them the opportunity to progress.
Cllr Nicholson continued: “Investing in our foster carers and recruiting more foster carers means we will be in an even better position to meet the needs of the children in our county who need us to look after them. The number of children in care continues to rise nationally and locally, more foster carers will help us save some of our precious resources as fewer children will need to be placed in external placements and having more carers will mean there will be more options for better matching between children and foster carers so that children can be closer to their school friends and families.”
James Foyle, the Fostering Network’s recruitment and retention consultant, said, “The Fostering Network welcomes this decision by Somerset County Council to introduce the payment of a fee to their foster carers. Foster carers play a vital role in providing a fostered child with the care support and stability they need during an extremely difficult period in their early life.
“Few foster carers come forward for the financial benefits of fostering, but like other professionals, they too need financial support to be able to afford to continue to foster. This is a small but significant step by Somerset County Council and I hope it contributes to the fostering service’s ambitions to recruit and retain foster carers.”
Foster carers will receive a minimum fee of £50 a week if they look after one child and £125 a week if they look after two children, and £200 if they look after three children, as well as the fostering allowance of between £140 to £242 per child/young person, that depends on the age of the child.
As always the council is looking forward to promoting the need for foster carers during the upcoming annual national Foster Care Fortnight (12-25 May). Events are being held during the fortnight in Taunton on Tuesday 13 May 7-9pm at the Holiday Inn Express and in Yeovil on Tuesday 20May 7-9pm at Westlands Leisure Complex. The social work team and foster carers will be on hand chat to people about fostering at the events. Find out more at: www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or phone 0800 587 9900.
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