New Fostering Service Launched

A new fee-paid fostering service has been launched in Suffolk in a bid to tackle a shortage of foster carers for older children. Suffolk County Council says there are not enough “in-house” foster carers for adolescents or children over eight, which means many have to be fostered out of the county and away from their friends and family. The council has now developed a scheme where it will pay a fee related to the number of youngsters the carer fosters in addition to children’s allowances and paid respite. The combined amount could add up to between £340 and £950 per week.

By attracting already-skilled carers, the fostering service is hoping to provide in-hour placements for 15 or more children in the scheme’s first year.

Successful applicants must have or show a willingness to acquire NVQ Level 3 qualifications in relation to the scheme and must possess some appropriate experience already.

The scheme has been developed in association with the Suffolk Foster Carers Association.

Patricia O’Brien, portfolio holder for children, schools and young people’s services, said: “These are some of the most vulnerable children in our local authority care.

“We need to ensure they have the best care and support possible to help them develop fully and we also need to recognise and reward the high level of skill needed to provide this service. The creation of the new fee-paid foster carers scheme is part of our ongoing commitment both to our carers and the children in our care.”

Hayley Phillips, head of the fostering service, added: “All our foster carers provide a thoroughly professional and committed service to the children they care for.

“But not every foster carer wishes to train to a higher level or take on older children or those with more challenging needs.

“In creating a fee-paid foster carers scheme, based on a payment-for-skills model, we are achieving two objectives. We can attract skilled carers who wish to foster but are prevented from doing so through a need to earn and we can provide a ‘closer-to-home’ in-house service which will help prevent us needing to place children outside Suffolk.”