Review seeks fairer fees for foster carers
Posted on: 29 March 2018
A review is underway as Devon County Council tries to make a complicated fee structure, less complicated and fairer to foster carers.
“We’re not looking to cut the budget,” says Cllr James McInnes, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for the service.
“We want to come up with a formula that encourages more people to become foster carers; one that is fairer to all foster carers. But right now, we’re reviewing it, and we’ll see what comes of it and what foster carers think.”
The system of fees and allowances for foster carers recruited by Devon County Council has evolved piece-meal over years.
It’s an essential service to the Council, providing homes for children who come into their care, and as such foster carers are very highly valued by the council.
Foster carers aren’t employed by the council. They don’t get paid a salary. But they do get paid a fee and an allowance designed to cover the carers’ costs in looking after the child.
And those fees and allowances vary remarkably, depending on a range of factors, including how complex the needs of the child are; how experienced the foster carer is; and how much specialism is needed by foster parents to provide that level of care.
And there’s a sliding scale between Tier 1 and 3 foster carers – the majority – at the lower end of the fee scale, to Tier 3 foster carers at the top end of the scale.
The council has about 280 foster carers; comprising about 30 Tier 3s, and the remaining 250 are Tiers 1, 2.
“The model we’ve got has evolved over time and is long overdue a review to see if it’s the right model to encourage more people to become foster carers.
“All children coming into our care need good robust placements, and if we’re not able to offer them an in-house foster placement, then we need to look externally.
“Crucially, we want to make the fee and support system more fair and equitable. At the moment a Tier 3 carer receives double the amount in fee and allowances than say a Tier 1 carer would for looking after the same 5 to 10 year old child.
“All of our carers are really valued, and we can’t do without them.
“And that’s the balance we want to achieve. We need to, because if we want to encourage more people to be foster carers with us, the fee model needs to be more equitable to make fostering for Devon more attractive.
“We’re working on models that reflect the needs of the child and we’re talking with all of our foster carers about the alternatives.
“It’s vital that we continue the dialogue with all our foster carers in order to get it right for everyone, and once we’ve narrowed down the options, we’ll be consulting with them again to see what they think. As yet, nothing’s decided.”
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