The director of Calderdale Council’s children’s services has hit back at a small group of carers who are against changes to fostering in the borough and insisted the measures will stop people abusing the system.
Stuart Smith has explained the decisions which have been taken by the council on the back of GMB, the trade union which say represents foster carers in Calderdale, questioned what will happen to payments for carers in between placements.
“Historically if someone has said for example ‘I am really restricted and I can only take babies under two’ and we hadn’t got any babies under two they still got paid and that could go on for a year
“So what we wanted to do was to discourage that because the demand for babies under two is less and less and we can’t afford to pay people for not doing any work.
“Sometimes when we are planning for a child to go to a family we do it over four or five weeks. So we would still pay them for that period when we are developing them.
“I was suspicious that one or two foster parents out of the whole borough were deliberately making it quite difficult for us to place children there and they were just getting paid.
“We’ve had a very small group of foster carers making a lot of noise about this change.
“Their main worry is this idea that when they are between placements they will have no income.
“I do have sympathy for that but we’ve made it really clear that if it is a foster carer who regularly has children and the child moves on and their is gap before another one is placed in their house, we are not going to stop the income.
“This was about those who went endlessly with no children.
“We were offering them children and they were refusing them who were still wanting to keep the payment.”
Rachel Harrison, GMB organiser for foster carers said the changes will mean foster carers having to work to a zero hours’ contract offering little or no financial security between child placements and they will also see a reduction to their annual leave entitlement. “Some foster carers will be left in a position of having to quit fostering to find alternative paid employment, or take their years of training and experience to foster for an independent fostering agency.”
What are the foster care changes
Cabinet agreed to recommend an additional £400,000 investment in the fostering service.
Foster carers are self-employed and receive a payment made up of two elements, an allowance per child and a skill level fee, which relates to the age and needs of the child being fostered.
Carers only received the full skill level fee for the first child placed in their care. If they fostered any additional children, the rate is reduced to 50% for these children.
The new pay structure modernises the payments to carers, giving them the skills payment in full for each child they foster. Carers will also be given more training to help them foster more children.