Money, money, money

(61 Posts)
jessie26 Tue 03-Sep-13 15:52:20

Hello, my first post on here.

I have been fostering for many years and have at present two LOs with me, while two of their siblings are in another foster home. I am a LA carer, while their siblings have been placed with an independent agency. From what Nananina and others say on here, this will be costing the LA a fortune! We however are on the basic of basics rates!

It does annoy me somewhat that the other foster carers who are doing the same job with the same family get three times the amount I do, but hey ho nothing much I can do. However, what is REALLY REALLY annoying me is the extra money our LA seems to throw at the other carers in extras where nothing is given to us. For instance the children all arrived with no clothes, no toys, nothing but what they were standing up in (and they had to be thrown). The agency foster carers got £500 for clothes and essentials. We got £50 and were told everything else had to come out of the weekly allowance. We had to buy a mattress for the second child - and although we were told we could claim it back, it never has been (over six months now and as the receipt has long been lost so have no 'proof'). When meeting with the agency carers we heard how they were given new beds, bedding and some furniture. We have to transport the children to school and contact (meaning we have the extra expense of asking someone looking after our own children) while their siblings are transported by taxi paid by the LA. The last straw is that the other siblings are provided with food during contact but we are told we have to send a packed tea with ours (it's after school). Both families have been on holidays booked before the children arrived and both went into respite. We lost our allowance for that fortnight, the agency carers still got theirs.

It really seems to me that as the other placement is so expensive for the LA, they are trying to cut out costs to us to save every penny.

The contact between the children is frequent, and of course they talk. While ours get £5 a week pocket money, the others get £10 and a £20 clothing allowance - the other carers admit they have more money than they could possibly spend on them, while we have to count the pennies and shop in Lidl.

Yes, I have complained to our SSW and the team leader of the Fast Team, but they plead poverty (and I know this may be true), but meanwhile money continues to be thrown at the agency carers. When we have attended reviews and meetings, it almost seems as if the agency carers needs comes first, and we are second class citizens - eg the contact centre is much closer to them. Worst still it means one pair of the siblings have so much more than the others. How can that be fair?

Hope I do not come across as jealous and money grabbing, but it is so unfair. I am so, so close to giving it all up!

jessie26 Fri 03-Jan-14 23:44:06

Roshbegosh - thanks for the support. It is insane, isn't it? If someone else was telling the story I'm not sure I'd believe it!!
As far as an IFA goes, that MAY be possible, but the LA won't then keep our permanent FC with us....and that's a deal breaker.

Foster Monkey - genuinely pleased some LA are more reasonable, though have to say for me £350 is a super wage LOL!
Our LA now has one a basic rate and no opportunities to get more and no increased pay scales. The past few years equipment and genuine expenses are not available either - clothing allowance LOL LOL, as if!

I would be interested to know your LA, Foster Monkey - perhaps, if you could, you could message me which one. We do not have any others nearby, do you know if they any are prepared to travel some distance? Of course the same problem regarding our current FC may apply.

The only way we can survive financially is for me to go to work, but as we deal with children with complex needs, the LA aren't too happy with that.

Thanks, both of you!

sweetmelissa Fri 03-Jan-14 21:12:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sweetmelissa Fri 03-Jan-14 21:06:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fostermonkey Thu 02-Jan-14 07:48:37

Hello. I'm new to the boards but not new to fostering. Glad I found this site, and am currently reading through previous posts with great interest.

I'd just like to say that I foster for an LA and get paid a 'decent' wage now but didn't when I first started. I had to work my way up through competence levels and attend lots of training. I started at £100 and after 2 years was on £350 (per child). This I feel is about right, although if you work this out per hour it's a pittance. When a placement starts we are asked if we require any equipment and it is paid for. We have quite a healthy initial clothing allowance but most rarely get it.

There are lots of LAs out there and from what I have read/researched the pay varies greatly. I think the pay scales are available via a few websites (whatdotheyknow or LAs site). I'd shop around a little bit - maybe move LA if your LA doesn't support you financially.

It's a shame we don't get paid a super wage as the more we get paid the more we can chuck at the kids. Also, a few LAs will offer you the lowest wage when you start, but if you say you can't exist on that pay they will um and ah but up you a level.

Roshbegosh Sun 29-Dec-13 15:44:18

This is an insane situation, no logic at all. Everyone knows how desperately short of carers we are yet you are left doubting whether you can go on because of the treatment you had by the LA.

I really hope you can switch to an IFA and continue to offer care to these children that need it. I am just baffled hearing of your experience though.

jessie26 Sat 28-Dec-13 20:54:59

Update:

Just thought I would update my situation.

A month ago we asked for the siblings we were fostering to be removed.

Behaviour had dramatically deteriorated (mainly due to manipulation during contact sessions with their parents) and this manifested itself, in the eldest, by destroying many things in our home. We asked our LA for support, and if there was anything they could do to help towards replacing anything that had been destroyed (mainly our other children's possessions - televisions, stereo system, laptop) but they refused. When we calculated how much we had lost in financial terms it totalled over £2000. If they could have helped we would have continued with the placement - we could understand the dreadful situation the children were in and in many ways were making great progress with them. But it was not fair to our other children that their own possessions were being destroyed and how every week we seemed to have less money for the rest of us to survive on.

So their refusal meant we too refused to continue with the placement. There were (perhaps understandably) no LA carers who were experienced enough to be able to cope with this complex case, and the few that were possible refused. So, like their two siblings, they were put with separate IFA carers, and of course this must be costing the LA fortunes. They are also putting much (expensive) support and extra financial incentives, regular paid respite and so on, taxis to school and contact sessions to hopefully lessen the stress on their new carers. We were given none of this and always had to transport the children ourselves.

We have now to try and repair and replace the damage the children did to our home, and while doing that will decide what the future holds for us as foster carers.

Joanna522 Thu 19-Dec-13 12:59:26

My partner and I just got accepted for fostering, therefore I don't have own experience yet, however we know a couple who has been with the same IFA for a while.
We went with our IFA and not LA for 3 reasons:
- They make a lot of effort to match children well with carers, they make sure the characters and abilities are matched,
- They are ready to help 24/7 365 days a year, and they DO answer the phone.
- I must admit money is important, I am giving up my job because I was asked to be available 24/7 without restrictions, and to be able to carry on paying all bills and mortgage, etc, we need the level of money the IFA provides, otherwise we would not be able to consider fostering.

I agree that there should be no need for IFAs and that fostering is very much under-paid, however from what I was told by several FCs and SSW is that LAs usually forward placements to IFAs if they don't have enough FCs who are happy to take on the placements, very often older children, especially teenagers, sibling groups and harder cases. It's very rare to get a baby or a young child with IFA, which many times is the age group that some carers are restricted to (family or preference/skills).

fasparent Sun 06-Oct-13 00:42:26

Hi Nana Nina just a thought do you think it could be an good idea of Starting a E online Parliamentary Petition for a Even playing field for all UK. LA. Foster Carer's . Just a thought could post and Google it nation wide

jessie26 Thu 26-Sep-13 02:05:56

Inthechelseahotel, thanks again. I am in England but would rather not say what LA - hope you understand why.
I today did some investigating about our permanent child, but it seems the LA would definitely move them if we switched agencies. This child is as dear to us as our own children, and close to us all - I could never, ever do anything to risk losing them. The only way might be to get a SGO (which has already been suggested) but to put it bluntly we could not manage without their fostering allowance.
I have not contacted fostering network though, so I will. Thanks for the suggestion.

Inthechelseahotel Wed 25-Sep-13 21:38:15

Speak to fostering network Jessie (that is in Scotland, it might be different where you are). They will be able to advise you about switching agencies whilst you have a child in situ. Can you say which LA it is?

jessie26 Wed 25-Sep-13 03:30:03

Hi Inthechelseahotel,

Support? Sorry, what's that? LOL

I would happily consider moving LA but for two things.

1. We have a permanent placement and not sure what would happen regarding that?

and

2. If we needed to be re-assessed, not sure how we would manage financially in the interim, especially as our savings have nearly been used up in this placement.

But I will check out other LAs. Thanks for the suggestion.

jessie26 Wed 25-Sep-13 03:25:59

Hi MsVestibule, yes it is £120 TOTAL for the younger child/our fee combined.

This placement has eaten into our savings dramatically (they came with literally nothing) and have obviously had to buy them everything they needed out of the £120. Now we are having a lot of damage done to the house by the younger one, so really do not know how much longer we can go on for.

Thanks everyone for understanding my difficulties.

MsVestibule Tue 24-Sep-13 23:00:09

Hi Jessie, our LA pays a weekly fee of £105pw, 52 weeks a year. If a foster carer has a child placed with them, they get a fee of £142.52 per week on top of that (for a 5-10yo), a total of £247.52 pw.

Have I read correctly that you're only receiving £142pw in total for your child? I know that's what you've said, but I can't believe the disparity between two different LAs confused.

Inthechelseahotel Tue 24-Sep-13 20:24:29

Honestly, I just couldn't believe what I was reading! How on earth are they going to get good people with that level of support! Can you speak to fostering network? They are really good. Would you consider moving LAs? Maybe you should check out what the neighbouring LAs are like? I admire you for getting this far! There is no way anyone would consider you to be money grabbing so don't worry about that. They are not paying anywhere near the guidelines. How come there is such discrepancy between LAs?

jessie26 Tue 24-Sep-13 11:57:23

Hi Inthechelseahotel,

For the youngest child we get £120 a week TOTAL - there is no division between what is for the child and what is for the foster carer, it is just ONE payment that is for everything combined. For the elder child it is just less than £140 TOTAL.

I am reaching crisis point as due to disturbing behaviour with one of the children many items and decorations are being destroyed. I am continually told any replacement/repairs need to come out of the £120/£140.

In this case it is particularly difficult as the children's two siblings are placed with an 1FA whose carers receive over 300% more per child than we do, plus they receive money for many 'additional one off payments for extras expenses' where we do not.

Sorry for moaning (again)!

Inthechelseahotel Mon 23-Sep-13 20:31:11

scarlet and jessie can you just confirm I am reading it correctly! Do you not have the allowance for the child plus the allowance for the foster carer? Which bit do you get if you don't mind me asking?

Mum2lots Fri 20-Sep-13 22:12:58

Exactly my love I'm incredibly lucky the fostering team is amazing my standards are very high I'm a sw and ex looked after young person Mabey you need a house move xxx

scarlet5tyger Fri 20-Sep-13 22:02:59

Unfortunately I'm not local to those areas but I just looked at the Warrington website and am very, very impressed! Thats exactly the sort of thing I'd want my own LA to offer. I especially like the 2 people carriers idea - (2 vehicles available for carers to borrow, for free!) it's small things like that that my own LA is sadly missing (as well as the bigger things like social workers!!)

Mum2lots Fri 20-Sep-13 21:43:33

I would advise if any of you IFA or LA are local to Halton warrington or Knowsley LA 's check out their levels and payments they have addressed this ..... I cannot speak for them all but the one that begins with W is particularly excellent !!!!!! IMO

childatheart Fri 20-Sep-13 18:26:41

OMG this whole issue is so, so shameful

In our LA things are at crisis point, LA foster carer's are leaving in droves and they cannot recruit ( because of all the reasons stated before).

Through the "grapevine" I have heard that there are emergency discussions with all groups on how this can be addressed.

EErhh Now let me think what could be done to retain LA foster carer's and recruit more ??????????

NanaNina Fri 20-Sep-13 14:31:26

I think a lot depends on the LA policies. Certainly carers got a professional fee in addition to the fostering allowances in the LA where I worked. Also our fostering rates matched the amounts laid down by "NFCA" rates (NFCA is now Fostering Network) the national organisation for foster carers.

The professional fee was in 3 bands, dependent upon experience of carers and we encouraged carers to do NVQs and so they could progress through the 3 bands. It was lovely to see carers who had not done so well at school getting NVQs when they had been determined they wouldn't be able to do it.

Hmm I'm not sure what deal the IFA made with the LA Suzy but as you say it must be costing the LA a ton, and yes this will be very profitable for the IFA. Having said that there would be little chance of placing these 3 sibs together, and I have known situations where there were children's homes open with just 4 kids and of course that cost the LA huge amounts because of the overheads. Residential care homes for kids were running at £2000 per week when I retired in 2009!! It's probably double that now and god knows why LAs still have them - awful places in my view. In the end we had to split the sibs (2 and 2) but were able to close down the care home - result!! And of course saved the LA a huge chunk of the budget. Care staff were redeployed.

suzylee73 Fri 20-Sep-13 11:46:15

I work for an IFA and took 3 siblings as an emergency placement. It was made a permanent placement by the LA until they are 18, they were 5, 6 and 10 at the time. I think the IFA gave them a reduced rate but I am not in the know so I don't know how much it costs. I should imagine its a shocking amount and the IFA are rubbing their hands together in glee!

I don't know how LA carers manage on their miserly allowances, I know I couldn't. A lot of my money goes on rent as I need a big house to allow them all their own bedroom so although I probably earn more than most I would still be better off working full time and living in a smaller house. I think it's shocking that some carers are expected to survive on so little to cover so much expense. Your allowance may just cover food, clothes, a bedroom, heating etc but that means your skills and time are for free!
Things need to change!
Do LA carers not get a professional fee as well?

NanaNina Tue 17-Sep-13 12:05:26

Hi Jessie firstly what are you doing posting in the early hours of the morning!! Your post about what you have to by from your own money, even your savings, just filled me with horror. I can barely believe this, but I don't mean that literally of course.

I don't know which LA you foster for (incidentally you can PM me just by clicking on "message poster" at end of blue line on one of my posts) if you are worried about posting on the open forum.

Firstly I think you LA foster carers need to get yourself organised. I think it should be relatively simple to start a group. Could you get together with maybe another carer who you know, and start off by writing to all carers (I'm assuming you have a list of carers) if not then ask the social workers for one, asking if they would be interested in forming a group for foster carers.

To start off it might be a good idea to contact "Fostering Network" which is the national organisation for foster carers who might be able to put you in touch with LA carers who already have established groups, and could point you in the right direction.

The group of carers in the LA I worked for was already well established when I started and so I'm not sure how it was set up. However I think all that is needed is a couple of carers (or even just you) to have the time and energy and determination to set up a group. You don't need to do it behind the back of social workers. You can keep them informed of what you are doing. You will need a venue and the social workers should be able to help with this (ours used to hold their more formal meetings in the evening in a day centre for disabled people that was available for meeting in the evening) They also had coffee mornings in each other's houses, and had picnics in the summer and at Christmas they always held a party for their own and fostered kids and one of the male carers would be Santa.

More importantly though, as I mentioned before, they met in the evening and had an elected chair and secretary (mostly working together to organise things, making sure all FCs were aware of the dates of meetings etc., and items for the agenda (I'm sure there would be loads!) and a couple of carers to agree to feedback to the social workers any issues that were of concern. Yes pick you battles, but I think it's time to FIGHT BACK - and you can't do this on your own, you need the power of a group of carers. Our group used to send us the minutes of the meetings. This was the local group but then there was a county group (large shire county) comprised of local groups from all areas of the county and these were held I think about twice a year. I know that the Director of SS was invited to those meetings.

I think our local group met in the evening on a monthly basis and then carers offered to meet in each other's houses for coffee mornings. Sometimes they would request that we attended the evening meetings. We only ever attended if asked. At the county meetings it was expected that all fostering sws and tm mgrs. attended, and as I said senior managers too were invited/expected to attend.

Let me know if you are interested in starting a group and I will have a think about some of the issues that you can raise as the advantages of being in a group in your first letters. It actually helped us because it meant carers swapped toys and baby/child equipment and clothes between themselves, saving money for the dept. I might even be able to put you in touch with a foster carer from the LA where I worked as I am still in touch with some of my former colleagues.

I just think that you need as a group to protest about having to spend your own money and savings, this just isn't on, and the LA need to be aware of this. I know about the cuts but they should be fighting the govt about that, not making carers use their savings for god's sake!

Oh in answer to your Qs

1. NO I have never heard of the LA asking IFA carers to keep children on a permanent basis. IF they did, I'm sure it would be on the basis of them converting to become LA foster carers. I suppose if carers were very attached to children, they might consider converting, but I'm fairly certain that the LA wouldn't be able to afford permanent care at IFA rates.

Just on the issue of permanency, the other thing that is happening and was actually happening before I retired from LA work in 2004, is long term or permanent foster carers are being "encouraged" to apply for Special Guardianship Orders on the children. This is very advantageous to the LA because they only have to pay fostering rates for 2 years and because the Parental Responsibility passes from the LA to the holders of the SGO, the case can be closed. Someone on the fostering forum raised this very recently and apparently some sws are telling permanent carers that the LA will pay until the child is 18. This is NOT necessarily the case. I worked independently for 5 years from 04 -09 and carried out quite a few assessments for SGOs, always kinship placements though, grannies, aunts/uncles etc. I would always warn people about the funding, or lack of! Some sws were telling these relatives that they shouldn't worry as they LA would fund till the children were 18 - yeah right!!! I was in an awkward position because I was carrying out these assessments for a neighbouring LA who did not have sufficient sws experienced enough to carry out these assessments. I had no authority over the sws though I would ask why they were telling relatives this and a lot of them thought that was the case about the funding. I used to suggest they read the Regs.............sorry I'm going on too much. I was just wondering if the plan was to get these IFA carers to apply for SGOs which would be very good for the LA...........not that I'm a cynic yo understand!

2. The answer to your second Q is YES, yes and yes again!!

I honestly think you LA foster carers should be getting organised as a group and having a dialogue for sws and their managers about some of these issues. Let me know what you think.

jessie26 Tue 17-Sep-13 02:28:51

Nananina - can I ask you, two questions if you don't mind.

1. Have you ever come across IFA carers who are asked to be permanent carers to children they have had as an emergency placement? I assumed the LA would want to 'bring the children back' to LA carers as soon as possible because of the financial situation. When I heard today that the IFA carers had been asked to take one of the children permanently I was rather shocked.

2. Can I ask about a child who is placed with IFA carers, who have been very generous, spending much of their allowance on the child, many luxury items for them, very spoilt. If that child moves onto LA carers, it will be a bit of a culture shock for them, won't it? Yes, we have been asked to have another of their siblings and I worry about the effect on the child when they realise we have to count every penny.

Thanks!

jessie26 Tue 17-Sep-13 02:18:03

Nananina - yes we have 2 siblings with us and IFA carers have the other 2. It’s so unfair on the eldest as he sees his brother get so many luxuries that there is no way we can afford. There is no local group (surprise, surprise) just a few social gatherings with SW present. It would appeal to me tremendously to join, even run one, but where to start?
My husband says I must “pick my battles” and I have picked one - I am going to insist the LA re-emburse us for the school trip and the essential clothing needed (waterproofs, boots etc). I’ll let you know how I get on. I am watching our savings dwindle away and it’s scary. And I really don’t think we should be subsidising the LA. I can’t tell you some of the unfair/outrageous things they have insisted we buy because I do not want to be outed (if that is the right word) - things which are THEIR responsibility, not ours. But it involves US buying items for some of the professionals involved in the children’s care, They are, to a degree, honest about it, admitting if WE buy it, it will save them money…but no more.
It does not help that these children and their circumstances are so complicated and time consuming, literally every day there is something to attend/report to write, and we feel like we are neglecting the rest of the family tremendously. It’s also quite a dangerous placement too, many threats from the family and so on.

Lilka - the adoption allowance we received 10 years ago (in another county) was much more than the fostering allowance is here now.

Scarlet5tyger - yes, I know. I worked it out recently that we work for 71p an hour!

Roshbegosh - it is £140 in my area for a teenager. These children are suffering greatly because of the demands, threats, behaviour in contact from their parents - some of the worst things I have come across - as well, of course, as the complaints against us every week.

Fasparent - goodness, charging the LA’s £4000 a week - and they won’t pay for an item of medical equipment that one of these children need! Yet, how can we not get it, when he needs it? We just have to.

Thanks for the support everyone - I’m not some nutter, honest, it is all true what I have written. I just re-read the thread and it seemed so ridiculous I almost couldn’t believe it myself!

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