Foster care fees published

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Foster care fees published

The National Minimum Allowance fees have just been published for 2018 – 19 by the Department for Education. The allowance rates have been calculated on the basis of what is deemed to be the minimum amount that any foster carer needs for meeting the costs of a child or young person in their care. The minimum fee is to ensure that no foster carer is ‘left out of pocket’ when caring for a child.

Below are shown the weekly rates for 2018 – 2019

Weekly rates      Babies    Pre-Primary   Primary    Secondary (11-15)    Secondary (16 – 17)

Rest of the UK    £127         £130               £143          £164                           £191      

South East         £140         £144                £160          £182                          £214

London               £146         £149               £168           £190                         £222

For comparison weekly rates for the previous two years

2017 – 2018

Weekly rates      Babies    Pre-Primary   Primary    Secondary (11-15)    Secondary (16 – 17)

Rest of the UK    £125         £128               £141          £161                           £188

South East         £138         £142                £158          £179                          £211

London               £144         £147               £165           £187                         £219

2016 – 2017

Weekly rates      Babies    Pre-Primary   Primary    Secondary (11-15)    Secondary (16 – 17)

Rest of the UK    £123         £126               £139          £159                           £185

South East         £136         £140                £156          £177                          £208

London               £142         £145               £163           £184                         £216

Once a child is placed in the care of foster carers they will receive the fostering allowance. many fostering services also pay a ‘top-up’ allowance which recognises the work done by foster carers. This reward element is not standard and varies across service providers.

Reaction to the foster care minimum allowance.

This has been an important year for fostering because of the national foster care stocktake. This has meant that fostering provision has been under the spotlight as never before. The report has now been published and reactions are divided. The publication of the minimum allowance provides an opportunity to gauge opinion on the financial arrangements that underpin foster care provision. The leading charity, The Fostering Network, is in doubt declaring that “Foster carers short changed again.” The Network’s chief executive Kevin Williams stated:

“The Government has increased foster care allowances for the 2018-19 financial year by only 1.5 per cent, which is not keeping pace with inflation. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is standing at three per cent, and the Retail Price Index (RPI) at 2.7 per cent.”

He continued – “We know that 60 per cent of foster carers already feel that their allowances do not meet the full cost of looking after a child, and this below inflation rise will continue to leave foster carers feeling short changed. Allowances are to cover spending on a child, so if they don’t keep pace with prices then either foster carers will be out of pocket or fostered children will be going without.”

The authors of the report see the world differently: on the controversial point regarding allowances, which have been criticised by foster carers, the conclusion of the review is that they are adequate. This line is further justified by reference to favourable tax and benefit arrangements. 

It is apparent that the leading charity has, if not exactly taken up cudgels, is unimpressed generally with the results of the stocktake. “Government must not shy away from urgent fostering reforms for England” Kevin Williams says. Look elsewhere and the reaction is softer. Martin Barrow, author and foster carer, holds that: “the review makes realistic and affordable recommendations to improve foster care.”

As it is still only days since the review was published, opinion and reaction will be in a state of flux. People’s views – and those of organisations – are likely to harden over the coming months. It is certainly true that expectations were raised by the prospect of the stocktake: the social care network acknowledges it has not been the overhaul that many wanted. Those seeking radical reforms are sure to be disappointed.

Reflecting on elements of the foster care review

As has already been written in a previous blog, the way the review too easily sidesteps the uncomfortable statistic that only 6% per cent of youngsters that have been in foster care continue to higher education, can certainly be viewed differently. What is revealing in itself, is that the reaction was defensive, seeking to justify and explain.

Those wanting a far more radical overhaul of the system of foster care are unlikely to have been impressed. Was there ever likely to be radical agenda for change resulting from the report? Not if this was an exercise in skilful wicket keeping as distinct from a buccaneering quest to change the world of fostering provision. A closer examination of the way topics that have been so controversial have been handled suggests the former. Rates of remuneration are judged adequate and not a bar for recruiting high-quality carers.  And despite shortages of families wanting to foster (currently standing at over 7,000) the review finds that there are currently around 16,000 foster care households without a child in placement. There seems to have been a reluctance to ask why? This is puzzling as the number is far from being insignificant. Perhaps these households do not judge the remuneration to be adequate – have they been asked? This is a glaring fact that certainly should not be glossed over. Such a figure represents an enormous and under utilised resource at a time when the numbers of children entering the care system are rising. Is the reason these households are not responding connected with the fact that 65% of children now coming into care have experienced abuse and neglect and will present real challenges? It is well known that foster carers  – even the most experienced – can be badly affected by placement breakdowns. The only answer is to offer higher levels of training and entice these foster carers to parent therapeutically. Such a move will leave it hard for the report’s authors to argue remuneration rates are adequate. In every walk of life, when people add to their skills and expertise, the reasonable expectation is they be paid more. Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers doubtless benefited from this in the course of their professional careers.

Reflecting on these apparent contradictions it is not unreasonable to wonder why the review did not set itself the goal of being radical and imagining a world of provision completely different from the one we have? There is a huge argument for far greater investment – especially when considering the financial and social costs to society of children who end up in the penal system, or in need of long term mental health support. Tellingly, however, a significant saving has been identified – the scrapping of the role of the independent reviewing officer – saving £70m a year. This is bound to be controversial, as it potentially removes a layer of protection for vulnerable children.

As Kevin Williams has also remarked – this review suggests the maintenance of the status quo. Many will agree, and also note it has created the opportunity to save £70m.

There is of course a far wider political context: in many ways the timing of this review has been unfortunate. Brexit has created a climate of unease. The full financial implications of leaving the EU  have not been articulated. Probably because they can’t be. Nobody knows. So a backdrop of the  kind of financial largesse needed for a radical rethink of fostering financing is now far distant. And this has been the wider context against which the stocktake has been conducted. 

Rainbow seek people to meet the challenge of becoming therapeutic foster carers

Fostering poses new challenges: referrals from local authorities are coming through for youngsters with complex emotional and behavioural needs often caused by abuse and neglect. This is why we are working to expand our pool of therapeutic foster carers. Therapeutic foster carers benefit from specialist training. This enables them to support these youngsters. As their problems can be particularly deep rooted, helping them make a success of their lives is uniquely satisfying.

If you are interested in finding out more –  020 8427 3355 – or our National line 0330 311 2845 are the numbers to call.

Rainbow: latest news report –

Minimum allowances for foster carers published

21st, February 2018

the National Minimum Allowance fees for 2018 – 2019 have now been published by the Department for Education. The way that the national minimum allowance is calculated is based on the minimum amount that a carer requires to meet the cost of (more) http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK

Good news at the end of our Rainbow…March will see the start of our annual drive to promote literacy.

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