Foster carers will be aware of the debate surrounding allowances and remuneration. Last year there were reports in a number of articles that made it clear a proportion of carers were ‘digging into their own pockets’ to cover their costs. This is not a desirable situation as it feeds into a general perception that carers are not sufficiently valued. This is far from helpful – especially as at the moment there is a shortage of 8,000 new foster families in the UK.
The government is coming under more pressure to increase funding levels. This is unlikely in the short term to make much of an impact on the shortage of carers. At least in the short-term. The leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network, is arguing for a change in the attitude to foster carers taking on other work in addition to fostering. This will not be right in all cases. The needs of individual children and youngsters will always be paramount. And having another source of employment should never compromise the needs of the child that is being cared for – they should always come first. But changing the approach to carers doing other work could have a positive effect on recruitment and retention. To make this possible there are a number of changes that could bring benefits. There should be a general increase across the board for foster carers. Why? Because in recent weeks it has been announced that public sector workers can expect to see pay increases. Any the same time, the charity suggests that a retainer be paid to carers in-between placements. And that this should be regardless of other work being done aside from fostering.
A carer should not find themselves in the position of having to consider looking for other work out of financial necessity whilst having a full-time fostering commitment. This means that in those instances where foster children have needs which necessitate the carer always being present, the fees that are paid will reflect this.
The Fostering Network has also recommended that no fostering service provider operates a ban on carers engaging with other work. Every care needs to be examined on its own merits. As far as training and supervision are concerned, fostering service providers should endeavour to make evening/weekend sessions available for carers who are in alternative paid employment. It also recommends that foster carers be allowed to rely on their support network for help: an example could be picking up children from school if the carer is working. Again, the circumstances of each individual case will have to be assessed.
Carers should also be entitled to expect understanding from their employers. Fostering is a job that hugely benefits society. This means that the government could also play a role in ensuring best practice pertains. The implementation of ‘Fostering Family Friendly” HR policies is something that companies should be encouraged to offer their employees.
Rainbow carers get a FREE subscription to Foster Talk. For some useful information on tax, visit – https://www.fostertalk.org/legal-finance/accountancy-tax-advice/tax-benefits-news
The government should now be looking at how they can make fostering a far more attractive proposition for people to consider. They should also be doing this to support retention. We cannot; as a society, afford to be losing experienced carers, when their experience is at such a premium.
People who are really serious about fostering as a career should call us now on 020 8427 3355 or our National Line 0330 311 2845. We will take all the time you need to explain the benefits – as well as challenges – fostering involves. We are an agency that has been placing children with loving families for over 21 years. Rainbow has been rated ‘Outstanding’ in all areas. Whatever your ethnicity, religion – or indeed cultural background – we’d like to meet you. And the same applies for sexual orientation which is not a bar to fostering.
Status is also not a bar – people can be single, living as part of a couple, divorced, married – with or without children of their own – to apply to foster. We are now hoping to recruit carers in London, Birmingham & Manchester. We have a lot of detailed information about fostering on our website – here’s just one suggestion – http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/record-keeping/
And an interesting blog – http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/foster-care-kinship-care-sgos/
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#FOSTERING We also have information on our website that covers: types of fostering, fostering allowance, fostering uk requirements, fostering allowance and benefits uk as well as respite fostering pay uk