Extra payments for foster carers who take on challenging children while council reduces basic fees offered

Foster family payments change

Foster family payments change - Credit: John Birdsall/JohnBirdsall

A new system for paying Suffolk’s foster parents has been approved by the county council’s cabinet.

The basic payment for foster parents is to be reduced from the Fostering Network’s recommended allowance figure to the government’s national minimum allowance.

This means the weekly fee for a baby will come down from £142.86 to £123 a week and for a 16-year-old from £246.44 to £185 a week.

However there will be increased allowances for people who take on challenging youngsters – the highest fee available for the oldest youngsters will go up to £400 a week with specialist foster care being eligible for a £600 a week.

Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, said the changes had been drawn up in consultation with the Suffolk Foster Care Association.

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There were consultations with foster carers between February and April, and the proposed new charges would be introduced from October.

The proposed changes are supported in full by 22% of the foster carers consulted – and a further 48% support the proposals subject to some alterations. A total of 24% did not support the changes.

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There is a “payment protection” element being brought in for three years in a bid to ensure that any carers who consider resigning because of a sudden drop in income could be supported.

Cabinet member Matthew Hicks, who was Mr Jones’ deputy before the recent cabinet reshuffle, said the new fees would be much fairer – reflecting the extra work that was needed to foster more challenging youngsters.

Conservative backbencher Joanna Spicer, a member of the fostering panel, said it was important to ensure there were also enough resources for the social workers who were needed to support the children and their foster-families.

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