We have skills levels 1-3. Level 1 just gets the child's allowance, 2 gets the allowance plus £90 per child. Level 3 gets the allowance plus £285 per child in placement.
The level 3 carers are very experienced and will have done loads of training in child psychology, attachment disorders, substance misuse etc. they take the very difficult children who would end up costing the LA loads in IFA placements otherwise. They also help with training, recruitment and mentoring/supporting other carers. It's seen as a career for them. They can have their skills payment reduced if they stop taking the most difficult to care for children. I think it's a good system.
That's certainly the case in my LA - skill levels are at 1-4. But I am horrified at the way the fc's are treated in your LA, and can say I haven't heard of this system in mine.
The fc's in my LA are a tight knit community with their own private get-togethers away from SW's etc, like yours . But their collective views are well respected in the LA and I think there would be a mutiny should this be suggested. I will make a point of bringing this up in our next meeting to see if I have missed anything...
Skill levels?? No such tiered system in our La- we were all involved in a discussion and it was thrown out on the basis that "just because you have been a foster carer for a long time it doesn't necessary make you a good one" and in my experience some of the "experienced" one's i've come into contact with pretty much bear this out.
As far as I am concerned if the LA tried pulling any stunts then we would just call there bluff, remember foster carers are not paid we are all volunteers who are given an allowed by the LA...... and they wonder why there is a problem with retaining and recruiting foster carers, your post pretty much sums up why!!
I have been catching up at Christmas gatherings with various foster carers at private gatherings (well out of earshot of the SW's!!).
I have been surprised to hear that several of my fellow carers have had their registrations changed or their skills levels demoted (usually when placements go wrong) this past year. Some of these are very experienced carers. It would appear that when things go wrong in a placement the reaction of our LA is to bump the carer down a skills level (usually from level 3 to level 2). This "demotion" can last for up to a year before they can fight to be put back on the higher level at next review, or in one case, threaten to resign and was reinstated to level 3. Similar thing with numbers of placements, with one foster carer being told that her registration to foster up to 3 children at skills level 2 would be changed to 1 child at next review until further notice.
If reduction of skills level or number of placements was a two way process and up for discussion between the LA and foster carers, I could completely understand as we all know that foster carer's circumstances change (redundancy, bereavement, placement breakdown, house-move etc).
Bearing in mind how desperately short we are of foster carers I am surprised at how some of our most experienced and professional foster carers are treated.
What do others think - is this pretty much the way it goes?