Foster Parents May Get Salary

Sweeping reforms to improve the life chances of children in care were proposed by the education secretary, Alan Johnson, yesterday as he outlined plans to improve their emotional and financial security. He said it was “inexcusable and shameful” that the state as proxy parent “seems too often to reinforce” early disadvantages.

Mr Johnson, who had already trailed extra financial support for young people as they moved towards adulthood – including £2,000 bursaries to help them at universities – is also examining proper salaries, rather than allowances, for foster carers. He is also considering contracting out care for children to independent organisations, including charities and private firms.

The education secretary, launching a green paper on changing the system, said: “Children in care already face a tougher life than any child should. As a proxy parent, the state must raise its ambitions for these children, as a good parent would, and transform their life chances through better emotional, practical and financial support at home and in the classroom.”

Schools will be directed to accept children in care, even when full, to end a situation where such young people are dumped in the most unpopular and poorly performing schools. Mr Johnson insisted that salaries for foster carers would be “more than just a token honorarium”.