Charity Makes Foster Funding Call

Calls to raise allowances to help foster carers look after children in Wales have been made by a charity. The Fostering Network, in a newly published report, claims £3m more is needed to help some foster carers. It wants to see minimum allowance levels set but payments varied among the 22 Welsh local councils. The Welsh Assembly Government said it valued foster carers’ contributions and would look at the financial issues and payment methods shortly. The Fostering Network wants to see minimum allowances ranging from £115 to £198 per week.

Foster carer Sian Adams, a mother of five from Monmouth, would expect to receive £90 per week for a child under 10 and a £50 per week placement fee for each child.

She and her husband Craig have fostered for 14 years and have looked after more than 100 children, but said allowances did not always cover everything, including wear and tear on household appliances.

Mrs Adams said: “I had one child who grew two inches in six months. Children rarely come with toys, they come with a little bag and you have to start from scratch. “It sounds like a lot of money but it doesn’t take into account utility costs,” she said.

Jane Butler, director of Fostering Network Wales, said the lowest allowances paid by one of the 22 local authorities in Wales for a young child was £67 per week. While 12 authorities in Wales were meeting – or substantially near to – recommended levels, 10 were below. She feared that the allowances issue could discourage foster carers, with an estimated shortage of 750 in Wales.

“We know there is a real shortage in certain groups such as Welsh-speaking foster carers,” she said.

Monmouthshire County Council said they paid £91.92 for a child aged up to 10. “This figure itself is below the amount recommended by the Fostering Network,” said a spokesman. “However, we also recognise the skills of our foster carers by paying a £50 placement fee per week for each child placed. This then takes the weekly allowance up to £141.92, which is well within the range recommended by Fostering Network.”

The council said carers also received payments for cots, bedroom furniture and allowances for holidays, birthdays and Christmas.

A Welsh Assembly spokeswoman said responsibility for allowances lay with the local councils:
“Local authorities may use Children First funds to help improve their fostering services.” She added that the assembly government would be consulting shortly “on appropriate levels of payment and fair and open methods of paying foster care allowances”.