Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing reported on a proposal to increase to foster carer allowances, linked to the significant increases to the cost of living and sought agreement to offer all foster carers two weeks paid respite per annum, and increase foster carer allowance for 2022/23.
She informed Cabinet that foster carers play a significant role for the Council, providing care within a family to children and young people who cannot live at home with their birth families. She stated there are not enough foster carers and one of the “key themes” identified within the Placement Commissioning Strategy completed in April 2021 was an insufficient number of in-house foster carers. To address this area of concern Bridgend had engaged with regional colleagues to support recruitment of foster carers and in April 2022 entered into a Regional Front Door with Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr County Borough Councils to support one point of contact for all foster carer enquiries and initial visits.
The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing reported that September 2021 saw the launch of Maethu Cymru/Foster Wales to support a national approach to the recruitment of new foster carers across all 22 Local Authorities in Wales, however this had not resulted in the increase anticipated. She stated there was a need to recruit new foster carers, whilst retaining those the Council has currently, to ensure sufficiency of placements to safeguard children and young people. Foster Carers in Bridgend had received an increase to their basic allowance this year of 3%, whereas the cost of living is anticipated to rise by 10% over coming months.
The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing reported it was proposed to increase Fostering Allowances by 7% (in addition to the 3% already paid) to 10% for 2022/23 only, pending any recommendations from Welsh Government or further review by the service that may be undertaken in relation to changes of circumstance. The Council would need to consider any continuation of this increase beyond this financial year in its budget setting for 2023/24 onwards. It was also proposed to offer all foster carers two weeks (14 days) paid respite per annum. The proposed additional 7% allowances would see an increase in budget of £201k, while the introduction of two weeks paid respite for all foster carers would cost the Council £80,186.
The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help in commending the proposals stated that the role foster carers have is highly important and acknowledged that it is a 24 hour 7 days a week role. She also stated it was vital that foster carers receive 2 weeks paid respite. The Leader stated that the Cabinet Member and Director are looking at additional ways of supporting foster carers.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
· Approved the proposal to offer all foster carers two weeks paid respite per annum, financed as indicated from within existing budget.
· Approved the proposal to increase foster carer allowances as set out in 8.2 of the report.
Publication date: 18/05/2023
Date of decision: 19/07/2022
Decided at meeting: 19/07/2022 - Cabinet