Money, money, money(61 Posts)
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!
How much more do they get, I thought there was very little in it at the receiving end? Your SSW should be fighting your corner with these things, it sounds dreadfully unfair and it is no wonder LAs struggle to keep their carers. I suggest you complain to your SSW and even take it further in the service. When is your annual review coming up?
Thanks for your reply Rosh,
We get £120 for 5 year old and £142 for the 10 year old. They get £370 for the 3 year old and £390 for the 12 year old.
Just no luck with our SSW, and I felt had to stop pressing her as it was damaging the relationship between us as I was made to feel as if it was all about the money, which of course it isn't. I am however seething!
Annual review not until next March.
Well that's a lot less than we get as LA carers, I thought it was standard everywhere with maybe a London allowance. I wouldn't be able to do it for the money you get assuming that's the entire amount you are given. Maybe you need to check this out as it seems completely ridiculous, normally I tell people to go with the LA but maybe you need to consider changing to an agency.
Hi Jessie26, I have been in this exact situation - 1 sibling with me and another with agency carers. Your rates sound similar to mine, and the agency carers were getting about £300 for sibling (newborn). I was fortunate in that although the girls had contact they were both too young to talk money! It must be terribly difficult for you to have to deal with your FC after contact.
I too felt like I was moaning to my support worker. I could see her point that the agency carers had huge breaks between children so weren't in as financially stable a position (but also had no children to support in this period...) but really struggled with the "extras" they got (they weren't "baby carers" so were provided with a cot, steriliser, bottles, clothes...) whereas I have to provide everything out of my smaller allowance.
It all seems so unfair when we're all doing the same, difficult job. Of course the obvious answer is for all LA carers to give notice and reapply to agencies but that will never happen.
Yes, Rosh that is ALL we get - nothing extra at all and it VERY difficult to manage financially, especially in the early days of this placement when we had two complete wardrobes of clothes, uniform and shoes to buy. I figured the first month it cost us money to have them with us. I thought I would never consider an agency, but this placement has changed my mind. Though not sure how we would manage financially during the time of the agency assessment - and what if we didn't even pass?
Sorry for the moans, the children are the most difficult we have had and it feels like we are being kicked in the teeth by the LA too.
Where are you? I think your LA are completely taking the piss. Fostering is such hard work and then to be exploited because you care is outrageous.
Hi scarlet5tyger....oh your post has made me feel so much better, as although I am sorry you have found yourself in the same predicament, I am glad I am not the only one. Friends and family cannot quite believe this happens and I am sure thinks if only I insisted I would get more. It's so difficult isn't it?
The agency carers (and I am really not knocking them, it is the system that is wrong, not them) actually BOTH work so although they may have periods of time between placements, they do have two salaries to live on too. I guess this is also different than the LA who would need one person at home all the time...though in our case both of us are at home as we sometimes have had 3 or 4 children with high needs.
But seriously, thanks for posting...and yes I have had to supply all baby things too...I once asked for a baby car seat....o
G, you would have thought I asked for the moon. Thanks again.
ps I never got the car seat!
I'm looking after a 2 yr old for LA and given an allowance of £149, but there is also a three tiered skills based payment. £50 per week for newly qualified FC , goes up to £100 after basic training (which can take up to two years due to courses being cancelled etc), and for FC who look after teenagers and children with behavioural problems £200. Now, I have friends who are still waiting to come on to second level, it seems SS are happy for them to wait as long as possible. I have yet to meet LA carers on the highest rate though I believe there are one couple receiving it in my county.
Managers are aware of situation and are frustrated with the money going out to agency FC. They are looking into changing things but can't see things changing for a long long time.
Goodness, Panadbois....the more I hear the worse it gets.
In my LA there are no tiers or levels, so nothing to progress or work towards. Just the basic 'pittance' LOL
We buy everything for new baby's think in total for the last 7 LA has only coughed around £50 for them all, same old story it's all in your allowance , everyone knows new born's are very expensive . mileage is the same contact 6 trips a week 30p a mile social workers double and more, often forget too pay up or wait months.
I foster for an agency and although we do get more money (£350) we need to provide everything from this. We have never received any extra for clothing,equipment,toys. We are required to give the child £10 per week pocket money and £10 savings. We also have to provide all transport and the school run alone is 64 miles per day.
We decided to go with an agency as we had heard good reviews for them and the support and training has been really good.
Other carers with our agency had waited months between placements and the main carer is not allowed to work.
Thanks for that - I guess all agencies are different, some good and some bad. I'm glad you found a good one even if they do not offer the extras that some do. Just as LA's are good and bad I suppose. We had been doing respite which meant we were busy in the school holidays but rarely had a child placed with us during term time. Hence now doing task centred and long term too.
Your opening sentence saying you have to provide everything from the £350 allowance and I understand you don't get any extras that some get, well we also have to provide everything from a £120 allowance with no extras. And when the eldest spent the yesterday evening throwing paint around his room meaning a ruined duvet, pillows, rug, built in wardrobes that now need sanding down and re-varnishing, plus needing to redecorate two of the walls - I can't imagine how many weeks allowance will need to be spent putting it right.
Actually in relation to that, does anyone know if their LA/agency would contribute towards the repairs and redecoration? I suppose not though.
Thanks again, Cassimin. I have never dared add up the cost of our 56 mile a day school run, so would hate to have your 64 mile a day one.
Jessie26, I'm more and more convinced we foster for the same LA!! My current LO has anger issues so her SW has
demanded strongly suggested that she begins several classes to help with this (mini martial arts, yoga etc). I agree totally that they are helping. Unfortunately each class costs a fiver and she has three a week! That's in addition to the petrol to drive the 16 mile round trip (we don't get a petrol allowance).
WRT your redecorating nightmare, my LA wouldn't contribute to the cost but I think my insurance would. Why don't you give yours a ring?
This whole issue is a major problem and deep rooted.
The La's "FUND" fostering agencies so for any La to plead poverty is laughable. If they can afford to finance agencies then to treat there own carers as second class citizens is quiet frankly shameful ( the money is coming from the same source !! ).
What is even more worrying is that the children are also being "tiered", don't they all deserve the same ?
The answer is not for La carers to go and work for agencies but for La's to stop this ridiculous system and treat there own carers as professionals and recognise them as such.
I'd hand them a bill should my insurers not cough up. I'd also tell my SSW that when this current LO moves on, so will I.
£120 is not a wage is it, its an insult. Maybe contact your MP or an open letter to the paper to raise awareness.
We have had to change insurers because when we insured through Britannia they refused to pay for a broken window when an 8 yr old boy in the road kicked a ball through it because he had been playing football with our foster child and they won't cover any damage caused by children in care. Ridiculous. We are with Halifax now and they do cover accidental damage by children in care. I know that doesn't include damage that they cause deliberately and in that case it is a fight with the LA to be reimbursed.
I dont know how you can manage on just £120 per week I know we couldnt !
I think it is really unfair of LA to expect you to. As you cant work are you expected to keep you and your family on fresh air??
The extra money provided by our agency means that our little one can do all the the things our own children did when they were young, swimming lessons, karate, football etc.
I agree, it is an insult to expect you to look after a child and provide all it needs for for this meagre amount. I know you dont do it for the money but I dont think you and the child should suffer financially.
scarlet5tyger - perhaps we do, yes! Outrageous that YOU have to pay for something that the SSW suggested! Will check out insurance.
childatheart - couldn't agree more! But of course it won't happen!
Panadbois - well, I can honestly say that I have never yet been reimbursed for anything...the worst thing is being made to feel so guilty about even asking. But it might be time to bite back!!
Roshbegosh - thanks for the Halifax tip!
Cassimin - the problem is we just CAN'T manage financially and are eating into our savings each month. Our own children and grandchildren are no longer treated or helped in the way we would wish. I would walk out tomorrow except for the fact we have a placed child with us permanently who is as dear to us as our own children...and obviously I cannot risk them being moved on. (Truth be told I sometimes think CS know this and realise we will only go so far in complaining).
Thanks ALL for your support, wish there was an easy answer (or I was a little braver).
Most of you know I am a retired sw and tm mgr for a LA Fostering & Adoption team (30 years experience in all)
I remember the very first IFA that opened in the shire county that I worked for, (as far as I can recall this was in the mid 90s) but it may have been before that, and then all of a sudden they were springing up left, right and centre. One director of an IFA actually held a meeting in one of our LA carer's homes to persuade carers to foster for his IFA.
We began to lose carers to IFAs as they paid so much more and included additional costs for services to children, which of course meant that if no "in-house" carers were available, we had to "buy" a placement from an IFA, which of course depleted LA financial resources more and more.
The points that some of you are raising about LAs paying out for IFA placements but "pleading poverty" when the unfairness is pointed out, are I'm afraid arguments that we (middle managers) were having with senior managers week in and week out, (and I'm going back to the 90s). The response was always the same "we can't afford to pay all carers IFA rates" and we would point out the difficulty of responding to carers who say "You pay out when you have to, so why not pay us the same rate." I remember getting so angry at one meeting with senior managers that I suggested they sack all of the fostering social workers, team managers and service managers, and then they would have sufficient financial resources to buy in all placements and then carers would all be treated equally. There was a long silence and a lot of paper shuffling.................having said this I know that what they were saying was right. We were only buying IFA placements as a very last resort.
Jessie you mention the LA "throwing money at IFA carers" - the reason they are doing this is because the contract they have with that particular IFA. They will have itemised exactly what the LA will have to pay out for buying one of their families. When the LA have a child to place and they have nowhere to place him/her they are forced to buy from an IFA, even one whose charges are very high. As someone has said all IFAs will operate in different ways.
It is all grossly unfair and the directors of these IFAs are making huge amounts of money. BUT the coalition is in favour of anything that is privatised and have slashed the budgets of all public services, and in my view they won't be satisfied till all public services are totally privatised. The reason LAs are cutting monies paid to carers is because of the cuts made by central govt., and it is appalling that carers are not being paid for initial clothing, equipment, mileage etc etc.
SO folks, make of it what you will, but believe me we tried and tried to get some measure of equality and got nowhere.................and I hate to say it bit matters will only get worse.
I've already had a rant about IFAs on another thread (can't remember the title) but it is a recent one..............
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Aaah so crap sweetm and the lunacy is that it was the LA paying for whatever it was that the IFA carers bought for their children, as all funding for IFA carers comes from the LA. It makes me so angry too that LA f-cs are being treated so badly. It's one thing that the LA are skint but to try to pressurise f-cs to buy things they can't afford is deplorable.
What was the item out of interest?
When I think back to how things were in the Shire county where I worked we used to ensure f-c's were supplied with all equipment, once they had been approved, before they had had a placement. We valued our carers and "fought their corner" wherever it was necessary.
So sad how things have changed............but I still think it is the govt to blame because they are slashing budgets and trying to privatise all public services. They will throw huge chunks of money at any private enterprise, free schools, academies etc. I know of social workers who are leaving CS because they can no longer deliver a satisfactory service to service users and foster carers. I am still in touch with my ex colleagues and the LA has sold off all the buildings and sws are sitting in car parks with their lap tops and have been told they can only visit carer once per month!!
I just wish the LAs were more honest - and instead of pressurising carers, they could say that they knew that they should be able to fund whatever it is, but they can't because of the budget constraints.
Don't know where it's all going to end - well I think I do really - all public services will be privatised and SERCO or CENTRA or some other big private enterprise will take over and the govt will throw billions of pounds at it, and if the service suffers, who cares, as the private companies will be making vast profits and so will the shareholders. Sorry to go on a political rant but that is at the heart of the problem. 70% of probation services are now privatised.
I have just heard on the radio that wirral council are planing to cut carers allowance if they dont attend all of their training sessions. Hopefully they intend to hold all training at convenient times for the carers not just the trainers.
OMG the LA don't deserve any carers - not at all. Yes they have got to look at every way they can to save the massive amounts that the govt have imposed upon them and wherever they cut, someone is going to feel the pain.
If LAs have not got around to knowing what sort of times carers can attend training then they are not even at "base camp" - soo sad to hear all this.
I heard recently that some LAs were openly saying that they could not guarantee they could request the court for permission to remove a child from parents where there was severe neglect or abuse because they couldn't afford the expenses that go along with LAC. These are things the govt need to hear, except they have their ears closed.
As an IFA carer I always feel bad about the amount they charge the LA's and think about working direct for the LA but after reading this I doubt that will happen. I get £350 per child per week, thats split into the childs allowance and my professional fee as I'm not allowed to work outside of fostering. I get mileage on journeys over 40 miles and extra money to pay a co-carer (babysitter). I know my agency is better than some others to work for as we are empowered and listened to. But IFA's are draining all the money from the LA's. IFA's should not need to exist and we should all work for LA's at a more reasonable rate.
Absolutely suzylee - it isn't your fault. It's the fault of this govt and the one before it to some extent that are all in favour of private enterprise, and I think things are only going to get worse. I think it's only a matter of time before many services currently provided by the LA are taken over by private entrepreneurs (or racketeers in my view) and the govt will throw billions of pounds to them, and if they mess up like CENTRA did at the Olympics well that's just one of those things and the govt turn a blind eye to it. Sorry I'd better stop or I'll go on a rant......
Just to say I recall the very first IFA being set up in the area in which I worked and I think it probably was one if not the first IFA in the country. It went national and I think international. The Director who was a social worker who had his eye to the main chance made millions, squillions and I think has now sold it on. The rest as they say is history!
Yep, I agree it'll only get worse.
My LA need to make savings of £20million in the next three years, which services will be worse off I wonder?
Nananina - thanks so much for your explanations of what went on "behind the scenes" and also your wisdom. We are living in difficult times, but when it comes to fostering, unfair times too.
Cassimin - actually cutting the fostering allowance if all training course are not attended. An excuse of course, got to cut the budget at any cost. I have never yet come across a training course that did fit in with school hours - and the lack of understanding if you arrive late/leave early because of the school run is remarkable. Sometimes the reality of the children don't matter at all!
Suzylee73 - oh PLEASE don't feel bad. You do a remarkable job and are worth every penny (and actually a lot more) the system isn't your fault. But I really do appreciate the understanding, thank you.
Update: Still struggling, still getting a pittance, still not getting help towards the school trip or the damage to our home. The children need a whole new winter wardrobe desperately, and the parents will not let them have any of their clothes from home. I don't want the children to suffer (they do enough of that) and I want them to have nice things - so searching charity shops and ebay for new looking bargains. Meanwhile (bitchy moment coming - sorry) the children see their siblings at contact in their new expensive outfits/toys/gadgets. I sound horrible, sorry, and am glad the agency carers so spend much of the allowance on their children in their care, but feel so sad for 'mine' that I just can't compete.
This is horrendous for you Jessie - I hadn't realised that the children you foster have sibs placed with an IFA and no funds made available to you for clothing, etc.
I think you need to stress to the LA that this is an untenable situation and it is simply unfair for your sibs to be seen as less important than their sibs (or words to that effect) Do you as LA foster carers organise yourselves and have a local group. The carers in the LA that I worked for had one running and it was very influential (united we stand, divided we fall) and carers were much more willing to alert us to their concerns because they were complaining as a group rather than just individuals.
The LA won't like this, but you could bring your situation to the notice of your local MP (especially is he/she is Tory) and point out what is happening because of the cuts being made to LAs who have no choice but to cut back allowances to LA carers whilst still having to drain their resources even more because of paying out to IFA carers.
It's utterly deplorable. If you don't have an organised group, how about starting one up. Ours used to meet socially for coffee mornings, picnics in the summer etc but they also had a group with a Chair and they would sometimes invite social workers along to hear what they had to say, other times they would elect a couple of members to feedback to us any grievances. They became a very influential group and the Director of SS got involved and the members of the SS Committee, but then that was in those far off days before this damn coalition got in and took a large axe and swung it at the budgets of all public services.
^It's utterly deplorable^
It's a disgrace. It's completely and utterly wrong that you are left in this position.
I have quite a close friend who is a council/LA carer for kids aged about 0-10. She gets more now she has many years experience and training and takes children with medical needs and behavioural/emotional problems, but her council pay (I just checked this) £105 as the basic starting allowance for foster carers. £105 fucking pounds. It's pathetic.
Meanwhile, I have an adoption allowance of a little under £500 a month for my DD2 from her placing LA...just over £120 a week. The AA was based on their fostering allowance at the time. (though my allowance is the highest AA possible for 1 child, someone fostering my DD would have been on a high band with at least £300 a week I think/bloody well hope)
Still, in what world, can one LA (in 2004/5 admittedly, before all these budget cuts) give me MORE in an adoption allowance, than my friends council are giving their band 1 foster carers? £420 a month compared to over £480. I've really needed the money I have, but giving an FC less...it's just criminal the way they're treating their carers. Bet they aren't getting many new ones
I honestly think there should be a press report or TV program (like Panorama etc) on this, exposing the situation to politicians who would like nothing more than to close their eyes. There needs to be a national minimum payment for foster carers set, IMHO a foster carer should never be payed less than £200 a week and preferable more than that (but I have yet to come across any LA who pay that as a starting allowance).
Couldn't agree more with NanaNina
Do you know what annoys me the most? The number of times I've had birth parents tell me that I'm getting paid £400 per week for "stealing their child". It's happened so often that they have to be getting this figure from somewhere, yet I've not even heard of an agency carer who gets that much money.
I've heard that one too, exactly £400! Online I mean. I 've come across a couple of those facebook groups for parents who are railing against the system for 'stealing their kids' and the things that some people come out with (upsetting everyone else)
The conversations go largely like this:
"They pay foster carers 400 pounds a week n they wont pay to help families keep their kids"
"I no its awful my sons foster carers r really abusive as well, he had a bruise n they said it was a normal kids thing, wot rubbish"
"Aw your poor son. fuck the sw's, <abusive comments about what sw's deserve>"
"Really miss my daughter today, she got stolen from me and adopted"
"So sorry sweetie, makes me mad. No one cares about the kids, its all about the money, cause adopters pay like over 6000 pounds to adopt the kids n foster carers get £400 a week"
"OMG are u telling me they sold my daughter to her adopters?!!"
"Yeah hun, it costs loads to adopt, it can cost up to like 20,000 sometimes"
"OMG makes me feel sick"
That last one (which I edited a bit) was a real conversation
I know exactly where it's coming from - Ian Josephs and a couple of other ranters in the 'national conspiracy to steal kids for adoption' group. On his website, Josephs copies and pastes adverts by IFA's which specialise in kids with serious issues offering up to 400 a week allowance. People read it. People think every foster carer gets 400 a week! Take to facebook. Spread the word. Within a couple of months, every parent whose child is in care knows all foster carers are being paid 400 a week
And the adoption money stuff is being read on US websites for private infant adoption but apparently people are unable to tell the difference between the US and the UK and if it works that way in the US it clearly works that way over here. Especially since we all know social workers are making loadsa money from grabbing kids and adopting them
Here's the link
This page (and this one ridiculous pathetic website) is responsible for most of the crap you get, and I feel pretty confident in saying this page and this website is ultimately the reason everyone thinks you get £400 a week
Look at that! THAT is the reason you get accused of being 'in it for the money'
This one man has run his website for years and years, he advises parents who have lost their kids!!!!! John Hemming MP keeps name dropping Josephs so loads of people go on his website, including huge numbers of parents whose kids are in care. So ultimately Hemming is also partly responsible, even though he doesn't say it himself. He points people in Josephs direction and that's enough
Actually my LA does pay that for caring for teenagers. Maybe it's a London thing. It is split into expenses and allowance and I think the allowance part is £260 a week. They are desperately short of carers even so. Yes, the saintly victim birth parents are truly galling IME doing what they can to sabotage the placement and destroy their DC even more just to meet their own needs of being loved. What it must be like to be an adult who was parented like that when they eventually figure out how their birth parent has dragged them down I don't know.
Agree with Nana Nina these LA's do not do their home work and just feed
the private sector ££££ .
Example Advanced child care is Owned by GI Partners in America a Multi Private Equity property firm with assets of Over £4 billion, charge LA's £4000 A WEEK. Average Foster care income £34.000 TAX FREE . so they say on their WEBB. profits as on tonight TV .
Fostering and Adoption with this Gov. and the NHS no doubt has a Hidden privatisation agenda.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 ??????????
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
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!!)
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
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?
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)!
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?
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 .
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
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!
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