Barnsley Council's Cabinet members will be asked to approve proposed changes to the current foster carer payment scheme at their next meeting on Wednesday, 16 May.
This comes as a result of the ending of the Fostering Network Rate for allowances and learning from experience of the impact on recruitment and support following the introduction of the current scheme in April 2015.
The changes members will be asked to approve are as follows:
- Increase the weekly payment at skills level 1 from £50 to £100
- Reduce the number of skills levels from five to three
- Formalise the age-related skills payments and ensure that they reflect the additional skills required to provide placements to older children and provide an incentive for carers to consider older children.
The revised payment scheme, which has been informed by Barnsley Foster Carers and the Foster Carer Association, reflects the skills and experience of carers and supports the fostering service to provide the numbers and types of placements required to meet the needs of local children and young people.
Every local authority and Independent Fostering Agency makes their own arrangements for the payment of foster carers and it is a competitive market to attract and retain carers.
Skills fees vary considerably with some authorities not offering any fees at all and some independent agencies offering very high levels for skilled and experienced carers.
Feedback from carers indicates that the current level 1 is too low to encourage new carers to take up fostering. They also stated that the current five level system is too complicated and doesn’t meet the current need.
The new proposals will see new carers starting at level 1 (£100 per week) and once they can demonstrate that they are attending support groups; are supporting the Fostering Service through recruitment or other events; have completed the required four elements of training and can provide suitable placements for children, they will progress to level 2 ( £150 per week). It would be expected that most carers will spend two years at level 1.
Once carers have completed the in-house diploma and have at least three years’ experience as a carer, they could progress to level 3 (£360 per week).
Carers who have a degree in social work/teaching/nursing and have appropriate experience can start at level 3 provided they are providing placements for children over five or sibling groups.
Barnsley Fostering Service has a significant gap in carers prepared to offer placements to older children. The increase in additional payments reflects the additional skills and experience required to care for older children and provides an incentive to encourage more carers to consider older children
Cllr Margaret Bruff Cabinet Spokesperson for People (Safeguarding) said: “We really need Barnsley carers for Barnsley children. Being able to continue living in the same town allows Barnsley’s children and young people in foster care to go to the same school and keep seeing their friends and family members. Currently, Barnsley Fostering Service has a significant gap in carers who can offer placements to older children.
“The increase in additional payments reflects the additional skills and experience required to care for older children and provides an incentive to encourage more carers to consider older children.”
The report and background paper can be read in full here https://bit.ly/2I4p1oq