The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing reported on a proposed Fostering Allowances Policy and sought approval of the policy and delegated authority to the Head of Children’s Social Care to implement the new policy.
The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing informed Cabinet that in Wales, the National Fostering Framework has been undertaking work to develop greater consistency in the use of Kinship care for children who are looked after and harmonisation of policies across Wales in relation to the payment of fees and allowances to Foster Carers. She stated that the Council had been awaiting the outcome of this work prior to making any changes to the fees and allowances paid to all Foster Carers.
The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing reported that the Council’s foster carers receive a basic allowance for looking after a child, which is paid at the level recommended by the Welsh Government. The recommendations for payments are based on an estimation of the actual costs of looking after a child. In addition, fees are paid to foster carers who are assessed to provide care to a range of children and are not applicable to those who are approved for specific children. This Fee is paid to General Foster Carers but not to Connected Persons Foster Carers. The fee element is split into two levels, with Level 2 – paid to foster carers post approval and Level 3 - paid to foster carers once they have had their 1st Annual Review and have completed the Qualification Credit Framework (QCF) training requirement.
The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing reported that the National Fostering Framework had recognised that changes need to be made to Foster Carer Allowances in respect of fees (which will become an Additional Allowance) which are paid to Foster Carers whether they are General Foster Carers or Connected Persons Foster Carers and a new Eligibility Criteria had been established. She stated that the Bridgend Fostering Service had drafted its Fostering Allowances Policy, setting out all the allowances that approved Foster Carers are entitled to claim and the Eligibility that a Foster Carer needs to meet to be entitled to the “Additional Allowance” (Formerly Fee). The new policy will be equally applicable to all BCBC Foster Carers i.e., Connected Persons Foster Carers will also be entitled to an Additional Allowance, if they are assessed as meeting the Eligibility Criteria.
The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing highlighted the financial implications of implementing the policy, which would result in a small increase in the budget for fostering with all unrelated Foster Carers moving from a Level 2 “Fee” to the age-appropriate Enhanced Allowance. There was also potentially a more significant impact which is dependent on the number of Connected Persons Foster Carer who express a wish to be assessed against the new Eligibility Criteria and are assessed as meeting the criteria. A budget pressure of £191,000 for 2022-23 had been approved by Council as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022-23 to 2025- 26, to meet the anticipated increase to ‘Connected Persons’ Fostering Fees.
The Cabinet Member Social Services and Early Help stated that it had been evident during the pandemic of the challenges faced by foster carers and the need to value foster carers as they look after children who have had the most difficult of starts to life. She appealed to residents to come forward as foster carers to help children grow in a family environment.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet approved the Fostering Allowances Policy and delegated authority to the Head of Children’s Social Care to implement the new policy.