How long for placements?

(45 Posts)
Bluedolphin1971 Sun 11-Nov-12 22:36:07

I have just begun the process of applying to fostering but yesterday my mum has put doubts into my head.

she said she doesn't think I should go for it purely because of the financial side of things. she said I'm leaving a job with a regular income for something that won't have a regular income.

This has really got me thinking. Obviously the SW (it's Barnardos we are applying with) can't give me a time of how long I will wait for a placement if we are accepted but it has got me thinking. I could probably go a couple of months without "wage" but not much longer than that.

I hate talking about money with regards to the fostering, but its something I have to consider. I don't want money to prevent me from doing something I really want to do. Does this make any sense?

Would love to know how long other foster carers have waited when going through Barnardos rather than through LA.

bonnieslilsister Sun 11-Nov-12 23:58:38

I suppose it will vary but remember they will (the LA) only use barnardos if they have no foster carers within the LA who can take the child. Good luck and hth smile

scarlet5tyger Mon 12-Nov-12 09:47:27

I agree with Bonnieslilsister. Our LA has slashed absolutely everything, from drinks at training to trips and parties for the little ones. I think they always were reluctant to use IFAs but now they will only do so in an absolute emergency.

What age are you looking at fostering Bluedolphin? I suppose there will be more call for you if you are offering to take teenagers & sibling groups. Otherwise the IfA I initially contacted advised me to build up at least 1 years worth of savings! (And actually wouldn't assess me because I couldn't do this)

Bluedolphin1971 Mon 12-Nov-12 12:59:11

Hi there thanks for your replies.

I was hoping to foster up to age 10, and I could take siblings.

I did call my LA but, I felt as if I was actually bothering them, and they really weren't very helpful at all. I also had to call them on a coule of occasions to ask for the information pack to be sent out and I kind of thought if that's what their like just now what will they be like if I actually foster with them!

I don't have a years worth of savings and the SW who came to see us from Barnardos know this because I did say to her I could probably go a couple of months of so without a placement but not much longer.

I reall want to do this but I know I need to make sure I can still provide for my own family.

gallivantsaregood Mon 12-Nov-12 19:05:01

I foster with Barnardos. We were approved in August 2011. Our situation is a bit different in that we are looking to give a permanent home to a child who potentially lives with a disability. We were matched with a little boy 3 months after panel but after lots of faffing around it fell through.

We are now in the matching process with another LO. We did decide prior to being matched with this Lo that we would do emergency placements (which up until now we haven't done. my own DS has medical needs of his own so matching is a huge consideration for us). Since deciding to do emergency we have has 1 placement lastimg about 5 weeks.

We are not perturbed by the wait and were very prepared for this, due to the age of our DS and our FC needing to be yournger than him.

Not trying to put you off but that's our story. Hope it helps to clarify.

I do think if you are prepared to have children from age 10yrs and up, you are more likely to have more consitent placements, but again, no guarantees!

Bluedolphin1971 Mon 12-Nov-12 20:11:46

Thank you for your reply. can I ask whereabouts in the country you are? I'm in Glasgow.

I contacted Barnardos this afternoon and the SW is going to get some statisticsfor me to give me a rough idea as to how many children they get referred to them on a monthly basis.
She asked me how much notice I would need to give to resign from my job and I explained one month. SW advised they might be able to work round about that. She also explained they do pay a retainer after I have had my first placement.

I really want to do this to help children get on the right path and make then feel good about themselves but I can't just give up my job and hope for the best.

I just don't know what to do now. Don't want to waste anyone's time.

gallivantsaregood Mon 12-Nov-12 20:57:40

I am in Fife smile

gallivantsaregood Mon 12-Nov-12 21:00:06

Check out exactly what they are saying about the retainer. Is not paid in all circumstances and is only £100 per week.....

The Fife service is fantastic in terms of training and support. We have lots of support groups but I don't think Glasgow have these.

gallivantsaregood Mon 12-Nov-12 21:01:01

Hope you can work it al out and go ahead. From making 1st enquiry to approval we were 10 months smile

gallivantsaregood Mon 12-Nov-12 21:03:43

Don't be put off by our circumstances as they are fairly unique. I do know of other carers who have only waityied a month or 2 before their 1st placement. I also know of several who waited 9-12 months.

It really depends which little person needs to be cared for and whether you are a good match. Good matching is something Barnardos has a very good reputation of.

NanaNina Wed 14-Nov-12 23:19:21

The trouble with fostering is that carers are not paid an annual salary and of course you are only paid when you have a child in placement. The fact that you are seeking approval from Barnardoes is in my view quite a worry, because as others have said, LAs will only "buy" families recruited by IFAs and the voluntary organisations like Barnardos. The IFAs and vol orgs don't always make it clear to applicants that they don't have any children and are reliant upon "selling" one of their families to the LA, who are so under resourced since this govt came in a slashed the budgets of all public services.

I'm sorry to disagree with your comment Gallivant "it really depends which little person needs to be cared for and whether you are a good match" - this might well be true in your situation as you are offering a permanent placement to a child with disabilities, but believe me, it's all about money these days.
I think your mother is absolutely spot on BlueDolphin - there is no financial security in fostering, and retainers are only usually paid for a few weeks whilsy awaiting another placement, which could be several months, and then they are as someone has said around £80 to £100 per week. It is a great pity as you seem so well motivated, but until the LAs can afford to pay a salary to foster carers (which gets more unlikely by the day) then there will always be people like you, who would probably be good carers but just cannot afford to do it.

.,

childatheart Thu 15-Nov-12 20:41:37

NanaNina,

It baffles me that LA'S can't afford fc salaries and recruit good carers yet they can waste thousands in poor administration, contact issues, transport and worst of all it is they that "bankroll" the entire IFA system. If they had half a brain then pure basic economics would determine that treating there own fc's as professionals would ensure that more are retained and recruited and this would be far cheaper than this current outdated system that they still run. OMG how basic could it be !!!!!!!!!! but still they run a system that is "broken"

scarlettsmummy2 Thu 15-Nov-12 20:56:13

We are with a not for profit IFA in edinburgh and had no issues getting referrals at all. I would guess it depends on the area. They also operate in glasgow and are great if you want to switch. They don't pay a retainer though. It's the adolescent and children's trust.

NanaNina Thu 15-Nov-12 22:58:19

I know what you mean childatheart but I'm not sure I agree with you about wasting "thousands in poor administration." As far as funding on contact is concerned, LA SSDs have a legal duty to promote contact between the child and the birthparents until either the children are returned home or there is a decision made in the courts about the children's long term future. They don't therefore have any option on contact. A lawyer acting for the parents in care proceedings would make mincemeat of the LA if it was found that contact had not been maintained between children and parents and the case would probably be lost.

As far as "bank rolling" the IFAs, again they don't have an option because if a child is in need of a placement and there is nothing "in house" or in nearby LAs (which there never is) they the only option is an IFA placement. In a way this is the fault of governments (both Labour and Tories) who have actively encouraged privatisation in public services, allowing IFAs to spring up all over the place.

When I was still working for a LA at middle management level, many of us tried very hard to make senior managers aware that our foster carers were saying (with justification) that they were being told the LA couldn't afford to pay fcs IFA rates, but knew that these placements were being made when "push came to shove." All that we ever got was that the LA didn't have the capital available to pay all carers IFA rates. Had this been a business they would have been able to get a bank loan, but of course LAs can't do that and can only work with the budgets that they have. I have been retired from LA work for 8 years and SSDs were severely under-resourced then, and know from colleagues that it is horrendous now that Cameron has come along and slashed budgets of all public services.

I became so frustrated at one point in a management meeting that I suggested they sack all of the social workers and managers in family placement and completely outsource the service to the IFAs, and i actually meant it, because we had no answer for carers who were justifiably complaining. There was a stunned silence and very little comment. They probably couldn't have done it anyway, but it was a measure of my frustration, and feeling of empathy for the fcs who had remained loyal to the LA, whilst many had gone to IFAs.

IFA placements could be anywhere in the country of course and now Cameron is wanting to know why children are placed away from their home area. The answer is staring him in the face - their belief and determination to privatise all public services, but Blair and Brown were on the same track of course and they too encouraged "independent" Fostering Associations. Some of the directors of these IFAs are incredibly rich and drive around in Porches, and I know of one who has bought a string of race horses and houses for his 4 children. It is immoral in my view. Then of course it is not good for children because they can be placed so far from home, and as soon as there is an "in house" placement available the child is moved from the IFA placement whether he/she was settled there or not, because of the funding.

As you know there is a national shortage of foster carers and I do believe now that since the budgets were slashed, they will not be able to afford to increase payments to foster carers, but yes they will be forced to use IFAs where there is nothing else available. The other thing is that the threshold for removing children and into care has been raised higher than ever before, because there is not the funding to look after them. This is a really sorry state of affairs because children are going to suffer. However I blame this Tory government because they are the ones who are demanding millions of pounds of savings, which mean that services have to be cut to make the savings. Public services are being penalised for the greed of the bankers and the Labour govt that gave them "free rein" and they were into sub prime mortgages etc. Mind the Tories would have done the same. Cameron and his ilk don't care about people, their only interest is profits.

SO I don't think LAs have any option than to try to run a system that is inherently flawed and there is no way of improving any of its services because of the massive savings that have to be made. This govt won't rest(in my view) till all public services are privatised. They want big businesses to come in and run the service to make profits for the directors and the share holders, whilst at the same time have free rein to alter the terms and conditions of service of social service staff. It is totally immoral but we can do nothing about it.

NanaNina Thu 15-Nov-12 23:04:55

ScarlettsMummy I am never sure what IFAs actually mean when they call themselves "not for profit" because this can mean that they don't pay shareholders, but it doesn't prevent them from drawing large salaries for themselves. I know of a so called "not for profit" IFA about 20 miles from my home, and the directors are quite clearly very wealthy and this can be seen through their lifestyle - moving to huge houses, the BMWs that they drive and privated education for their children etc etc. I suppose there are some IFAs who call themselves "not for profit" who do pay themselves reasonable salaries and plough any profit back into the business, but I suspect these are the exception rather than the rule.

However IFAs do pay their social workers and managers a far higher salary than they would earn with the LA and a company car etc., in the same way that they pay their carers far higher fees than LA foster carers get, which I have addressed in my previous post.

scarlettsmummy2 Thu 15-Nov-12 23:16:03

That hasn't been my experience with TACT- they are a charity and any of the staff I have met have been very down to earth and not at all flashy, nor do they have company cars. But they could well be the exception.

NanaNina Fri 16-Nov-12 10:21:41

Don't want to split hairs SM but any organisation can obtain charitable status from the Charity Commission if they fulfil a certain criteria and companies do it for tax purposes. It still doesn't prevent directors paying themselves high salaries. Eton college is a charity and they offer a few scholarships per year to fulfil the criteria!

I am sure the staff are down to earth which is what you would expect, but sws need transport and they may not have "company cars" but could be paid a high mileage rate and a sum each month for being an "essential user" - this would have to be the case. This is what happened in LAs, but I'm sure therates willhave been cut now because of the budget restraints. However there would be nothing to stop an IFA paying the sws ar high rates and for the directors because it is of course charged to the LA.

Sorry but I can't think well of IFAs (of any sort)but I don't blame fcs for working for them and quite honestly I wonder LAs have any carers left.

childatheart Sat 17-Nov-12 13:12:29

NanaNina,

I agree with all that you have said, but I do question one thing.

If the LA has a set budget of X pounds then once those X pounds are spent then in my maths it equates to 0. How do they then argue that they can't afford to look after there own carer's sufficiently but find the money to out source to IFA's ( if they haven't got the budget then surely that applies across the board-- where are they then mysteriously finding a constant budget to finance IFA's when in the same sentence saying they haven't got it to look after there own carer's). Whether LA's are forced down a route or not a budget is a budget whatever it is spent on, this is the arguement that I'm afraid does not stack up with the majority of LA carer's, including me and exactly the reason that we feel we are being "hoodwinked" and "fobbed" off.

Like many LA carer's I am well educated and certainly not stupid and i'm afraid that the business model of Childrens Services is floored and for the sake of all "looked after children" needs a radical overhaul because the same old stories that keep being used do not stack up ethically or finacially so I wish that they would stop trying to convince us otherwise.

scarlettsmummy2 Sat 17-Nov-12 13:30:49

I think the problem is that the IFSS are doing the job better and quicker than the councils own fostering teams. The councils are simply not recruiting enough carers through their own ineptitude- I don't think it's simply that carers go out with the la because they get paid more. We applied to local authorities initially, but they were unhelpful, slow to organise anything, refused to see us out with strict office hours and were incredibly negative. We are in Edinburgh. Edinburgh council told us they wouldn't take us because we had a toddler. We now have an Edinburgh council child in our care, and we're offered numerous other Edinburgh council children! Total madness.

NanaNina Sun 18-Nov-12 13:44:04

Hi CatH I can't really answer the query that you raise about budgets. It is not as simple as you pose. The LAs don't simply have a pot of money and when it's gone it's gone as you suggest. There are several budgets in the SSDs, designated for particlar services, so money can be swapped around and where a budget looks like it is "healthy" money can be moved to one that is looking like it is heading for an overspend. Budgets are monitored closely and cuts made where it looks like budgets are not going to be brought in on target at the end of the financial years 31st March each year. I have been horrified to learn on these threads that many foster carers are being told that the have to do the transport for contact and without a mileage allowance!

I know that in the LA where i used to work that social workers no longer get their lump sum of approx £45 per month for being an "essential user" and this amount is meant to offset charges for maintenance of the vehicle, tax, insurance etc. So cuts will be made in all sorts of places of which I have no knowledge of course.

I also know that the threshold for removing children and bringing them into the looked aftered system has been significantly raised, which means sadly that some children are not going to be kept safe with their birthparents.

As far as funding IFAs are concerned there will be part of the budget set aside and the amounts in that budget will be based on trawling back through the previous financial years to give some indication of how many IFA places will have to be funded. Managers have to predict how many IFA placements their particular area will need to fund. Also there is an understanding by all family placement staff that IFA children are brought back into LA care as soon as a vacancy is available.

The issue you raise about having sufficient money to pay extortionate rates to the IFAs, but not being able to fund LA carers at the same rate is one I cannot answer, because as you will see from my previous posts this is an issue that many of us middle managers raised time and time again, and this was at a time before the coalition came in slashing budgets with a pick axe.

You comment that the business model of children's services is flawed and I don't disagree with you, but LA Social Care (be it adult or children's services) is just a microcosm of the whole of society. In my opinion it is the system under which we live (capitalism) that is fundamentally flawed because the vast majority of the wealth of the country is held by a very small percentage of the population. Why are bankers still getting their huge bonus's - why is George Entwistle being rewarded for his incompetence over the Jimmy Saville issue by a £450,000 pay off. "Ordinary" incompetent workers would be lucky to get a week's wages if they resigned because it had been demonstrated they were seriously incompetent and knew they would be sacked if they didn't resign. Why are half of the cabinet millionaires, yet see fit to wage war on the poor in a way that I have never seen in my lifetime (I am 68)

I must stop or I will go on and on.........this coalition has squeezed all public services until the pips have dropped out and are intent on privatising all public services, so that the business model is adopted and the staff, teachers, nurses, doctors,social workers, police, fire service etc can have the terms and conditions of their employment completely altered for the worse, so that big profits can be made for the business and shareholders will also be paid huge dividends etc. This is the model under which we are now living and it scares me, because Cameron and his ilk don't give a damn about the child left at home because SSDs can't afford to remove him because they don't have the finance available for a foster home (or IFA) or whatever, or the poor service patients are getting in the NHS because they too are seriously under resourced. Why should the politicians worry about the NHS when they all have private insurance.

You may not agree but this is my point of view and I suppose it depends on your political orientation. This coalition are wanting improved services with ever decreasing budgets..........it can't be done.

NanaNina Sun 18-Nov-12 14:03:01

Hi SM It does appear that you have had a very bad service (or non service) from your LA in Edinburgh. However I don't think it's fair to state that all LA family placements workers are inept, based on your experience of one LA. I also think it is something of an insult to social workers involved in LA fostering who work their socks off day in and day out to provide the best service they can with dwindling resources. That said I think the sw who told you that you coulnd't foster because you had a toddler was quite ridiculous.

Of course the IFAs "do it better" because they have a sufficient number of social workers to be able to recruit and prepare applicants and they are quick to do this because they want to be able to "sell" these families to the LA. On the contrary LA social workers are completely and utterly overloaded with work and this has got significantly worse since the coalition demanded huge savings in all public services (as I have detailed in my post above) Their work has to be prioritised and they are not able to respond quickly to applicants because they have to juggle whether to support original carers having a tough time, arranging annual reviews of carers, coping with allegations against carers, keeping records up to date etc etc and planning say 2 recruitment campaigns per year (and believe me this takes an enormous amount of time, when set alongside all the other tasks that need doing) and then finding time to carry out the preparation course and then carry out lengthy assessments on applicants, and the time taken in organising a panel date and attending panel with the applicants.

IFAs provide a very good service for carers and children. Carers are paid far higher rates than LA carers and will receive good support because the IFA sw has the time available because she has no other statutory work to overload her or him. Additional costings are included eg therapy for children, education if not in school, and other things are provided because they are all costed to the LA, which of course makes huge dents in their budgets. Many carers don't realise this. I have seen IFA directors become exceedingly wealthy, believe me out this privatisation model, but this is what this govt wants, and at the same time, it wants to slash LA budgets, pay out huge amounts to the IFAs and expect better service from the LAs.............it can't be done.

scarlettsmummy2 Sun 18-Nov-12 22:34:16

I didn't mean the actual social workers were inept- apologies. I mean their recruitment processes are. In that sense I do believe that the ifas are much quicker off the mark and keen to get good carers.

gallivantsaregood Mon 19-Nov-12 11:14:04

Scarlett: I am in Fife and am with a VO rather than the LA for almost exactly the same reasons!!

NanaNina Mon 19-Nov-12 12:35:04

SM- I wonder if you have read my posts upthread as I have explained in some detail why the IFAs are "much quicker off the mark" and keen to get good carers. In case you haven't read it, it is because they arebusinesses and are in a hurry to recruit and sell carers to the LA, to line their pockets!! They do not get funds from elsewhere so they are totally dependent upon the sale of carers to the LA for extortionate rates. Many of them will be in trouble soon as LAs cannot afford to buy their families, and therefore they have done the only thing they can, and that is to raise the threshold for removing children from birthparents. It is a tragedy but what is the use of the LAs removing children if they know that they have insufficient funds to care for them. The govt doesn't care because its only interested in profits not people.

Gallivant I think exactly the same applies to the VOs.

I struggle to understand why so many people cannot understand this, which is why I write lengthy posts, but it seems they fall on stoney ground.

gallivantsaregood Mon 19-Nov-12 13:59:37

Nana : I always enjoy reading your posts. I completely understand the situation and I knew before I aplied that the VO I am with did not have children of their own but essentially sold us to the LA's.

My social conscience made me first of all approach my LA who were completely incompetent, and that was before I even applied! I am sorry that it grates that IFA's VO's are essentially stealing money from LAs and I understand your frustration.

However for me, as a carer, wishing to give the best possible service to the children I care for, it is vital for me to know that I can access appropriate levels of training and suport in order to be an effective foster carer. Mt LA was not going to do that. I would have of course done my best but without support ( and I know from local carers that the LA are not good at support), that the children I look after would be cared for a loked after and supportedc by a stressed, struggling me. That in my book isn't acceptable.

Until things change and LA's find a way to provide the support, both emotional and financial that the IFAs and Vos provide then there will continue to be a disparity. I am not for a minute saying that all LA foster carers are not doing a good job. In fact I believe that for the most part all foster carers do the best that they can with what they have. Unfortunately for the kids looked after by most LA foster carers what their carers have to work with is less.........

So I do feel sad that people feel the need to work with IFAs and VOs and that having to use those services puts more pressure on already stretched LAs. But am I prepared to work for an LA who will provide less emotional support, less financial support which will ultimately result in our whole family life being more stressful and under pressure.....no way. The children I ( and everyone else) care for deserve the best care available and I can't provide that with the LA.....

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