Funding boost for North Ayrshire foster carers

FOSTER carers in North Ayrshire are to receive between £400 and £550 a week to look after vulnerable youngsters.

The aim of the new scheme is to compete with the independent sector, who are offering big fees and support packages.

Fostering in North Ayrshire is costing a staggering £1.8m a year.

Latest figures show there are currently 108 youngsters in foster care – a dramatic increase of 25 over last year.

Sixty-eight of them are under the wing of the local authority while 40 are looked after independently.

The council are keen to attract more foster carers.

Social work boss Bernadette Docherty told the executive this week the fostering “market” is highly competitive.

Recruitment and retention of foster carers is a major issue for local authorities and the independent sector.

The independents operate on a UK wide basis and have a highly developed marketing strategy.

Some local authorities have recognised the challenge posed by the independents and have started to compete with them by introducing fee-based schemes and comprehensive support packages for their carers.

Existing and potential foster carers are aware of the competitive market and have frequently moved to different providers depending on the fees and support packages on offer.

She went on: “We know that over the past year, 22 potential foster carers in North Ayrshire have applied to foster with independent providers and eight have applied to foster with other local authorities who match the independents’ fees.”

The introduction of a fee-based scheme designed to recruit more carers has proved successful by attracting foster carers from the private sector.

The executive agreed the new fees.