Worcestershire may charge parents for placing children in care

Local authority is considering ‘charging policy’ applying in certain circumstances for children’s care services

Worcestershire county council is to consider proposals that would see some parents being charged for putting their children into care.

In a statement to Guardian Social Care, Liz Eyre, the council’s cabinet member for children’s social care and safeguarding, said that the plans were part of the authority’s looked after children’s strategy, and were about ensuring that it was looking after “the right children, for the right reasons and in the right way to make sure they are safe and have better lifelong outcomes”.

“Worcestershire county council’s cabinet agreed to further work to consider a charging policy which would be part of this strategy. It would not be for all looked after children in all circumstances,” she said. “Further work is needed to develop the details and options for charging and under what circumstances a parent might be charged. Any options considered will need to take account of parental circumstances and the needs of the child to ensure there are no barriers to children becoming looked after when this is required.”

According to the Worcester News, proposals that went before cabinet said that charging may act as a deterrent where children and young people become looked after because parents do not wish to continue to exercise their parental responsibilities “but the social care assessment indicates that the child could be supported to live at home and the outcomes would not be different if they are looked after”.

The paper reported that the council, which is under pressure to make savings of up to £70m by 2015, suggested that the move would help deliver better value for both children and the taxpayer.