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Fostering – A Missed Opportunity

Fostering – Another missed opportunity

Last month the government missed yet another opportunity to make significant changes that would have better recognised and supported the service provided by foster carers to our most vulnerable children and young people.

Following a recent government enquiry it was decided not to introduce a national fee based system for foster carers and government again stated their opposition to a foster carer registration scheme.

There is a shortage of approximately eight thousand foster carers at any one time in the UK which causes two major problems. One being the obvious lack of numbers and the other being the lack of choice for placing social workers when trying to find the most suitable foster carers for their children.

Without stating the obvious, how can most people who are interested in becoming foster carers and who need to continue to provide for themselves and their families, pursue their interest if they have no clarity about the finances available, for them to then risk leaving a job as required by most fostering agencies.

Another significant issue is the lack of financial security if foster carers do not have a child in placement – no child – no payment. Again the government turned down the advice stating that it was not appropriate because any fee levels should be set regionally as any pay will depend on a many different variables such as levels of foster carer’s experience and individual expertise. National foster carer retainer fees were also rejected as inappropriate to be set by government, again because of the differences in fostering services across the UK and skill levels of foster carers.

Government has shown that they do not have the resolve to take on the antiquated fostering system that requires a foster carer to undertake an assessment to be approved then to undertaken another one requiring the same information, checks, training and time frame if that foster carer wants to exercise the right to move to another fostering provider!

A national foster carer register would have resolved this but it would also mean that foster carers would be free to look after children for any fostering provider or agency, not something that would be welcomed. However if the government created a registration scheme and provided and funded centralised fostering assessments, this would resolve the injustice, increase the number of foster carers, recognise foster carers for the professional they are and drastically improve the chances for our vulnerable children.

The government’s offering is to make changes in the national minimum standards for fostering and to require that Local Authority foster carers be made aware about the details of payments and how the payments are required to be used. Also the standards will be amended to make sure that payments to foster carers be continued when allegations against carers were being investigated and/or until complaints had been resolved.

Small but welcome changes – Another missed opportunity. For information about fostering contact: www.simplyfostering.co.uk

 

 

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