Foster Carers Left To Dig Deep Into Their Own Pockets

Additional investment of £3 million per year is needed to stop hundreds of Welsh foster carers being left out of pocket as a result of fostering, according to a report published by charity the Fostering Network tomorrow. A survey of all 22 local authorities found that foster carers in nearly half are still receiving allowances below the Fostering Network’s recommended minimum levels. The £3 million would be required in order to provide all foster carers with the Fostering Network’s rates. Allowances are designed to cover the costs incurred by a foster carer in looking after a fostered child. The survey found actual allowances as low as £67 per week for the youngest children, compared with the recommended rate of £115.

Inadequate allowances put foster carers under extreme financial strain, forcing many to spend their own money on a daily basis, or resulting in the children they care for having to go without.

Jane Butler, director of the Fostering Network Wales, said: “Our survey shows that an unacceptably large number of foster carers are still being expected to contribute to the cost of looking after a fostered child from their own pocket. As a result not only are foster families suffering continued financial hardship, but fostered children are also being unfairly penalised.

“At present foster carers are forced to dig deep into their own pockets to cover rent or mortgage costs which are often higher than average due to having larger homes to care for extra children. There are also travel expenses and the costs associated with running a bigger car, and expensive household bills. With a shortage of around 750 foster carers in Wales, this is hardly a way to attract more people to fostering.

“That’s why the Fostering Network is calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to introduce a national system of allowances based on the Fostering Network’s recommended rates. This would guarantee foster carers full reimbursement for their spending on fostering, improve the recruitment and retention of foster carers and deliver much-needed stability to children in foster care.”

There are 3,200 children and young people living with 1,900 foster families on any given day in Wales.