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Why are we so short of foster carers?

(110 Posts)
Fosterangel Thu 16-Aug-12 20:38:27

Our LA admits that it is desperately short of foster carers. Where are all the amazing potential foster carers? What is the reason for holding back? Why are we not recruiting enough foster carers or retaining the foster carers we have?

Gatorade Wed 22-Aug-12 07:36:07

bonnies I'm interested in your point about families only being interested in ongoing support/contact if there were financial rewards. I'm only at the beginning of my research into foster care and this suprises me. Personally I wouldn't mind receiving no money at all even when the child is living with me, and afterwards, if contact was requested I certainly wouldn't want any money for this. So to my question, do a lot of foster carers do it for the money as oppose to purely helping children in need (I don't believe this to be true but I could be mistaken)? Or does it tend to be a necessity that a lot of carers are paid as they couldn't afford to do it otherwise?

EightiesChick Wed 22-Aug-12 07:50:39

I would be interested but giving up my job, which I love, would be a wrench and would create financial instability. Agree that fostering should be a salaried job with proper respect and career progression.

expatinscotland Wed 22-Aug-12 08:29:39

'So to my question, do a lot of foster carers do it for the money as oppose to purely helping children in need (I don't believe this to be true but I could be mistaken)? Or does it tend to be a necessity that a lot of carers are paid as they couldn't afford to do it otherwise? '

I can't speak for everyone, but many cannot afford to feed and keep another child without more money coming in, particularly if one of you has to give up her/his job to do so.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 08:33:43

Fostering a child is a very expensive undertaking.
There is no way we could afford to do it again without appropriate renumeration.
It crippled us financially last time until we received an allowance.
It's such an important job. It should be recognised as such.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 08:36:44

gatorade do you understand the costs involved?

Gatorade Wed 22-Aug-12 08:41:43

Do I understand the costs involved, maybe not. I maybe incorrectly assume it would cost what it costs to look after my own DD (clothes, food, toys, groups and activities) + extra costs associated with attending meetings and so on. I am happy to be corrected as as I have mentioned I'm only at the start of looking into this.

I guess I would be choosing to do this instead of having a third/forth child, which we could afford to do.

Gatorade Wed 22-Aug-12 08:44:56

Just to clarify I'm in no way saying it shouldn't be paid, I imagine this would lead to a terrible reduction on the number of carers and I don't think that those who can afford to do it without remuneration make the best carers! I just wonder if it should be more means tested so those with less resources actually get more money, whilst others who can afford it get less.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 09:06:02

I wasn't being hostile gator. It was a genuine question smile

There is also the question of why a family would/should be expected to beat the costs on behalf of the birth family and the local authority.

I could give you an example
In one day we had to pack a bag with enough milk and several changes of clothes.
Take baby across London
Find parking for several hours
Wait then take baby home.

That was a pretty simple, uncomplicated day.

We had to pay for the milk
We had bought the clothes
London parking
Four hours waiting around

Then when we got home the bag would have several unopened but unusable bottles of milk and the others would be missing.
Nappies would be used.
Baby changed into new outfit and several items 'lost' ie babygros, socks, tops, hat, suncream, etc

So petrol, parking, nappies, milk, replacement milk, replacement bottles, replacement clothes.

Baby had four of thse contacts a week for 18 months.

Plus the reviews, clinic and hospital appointments and social worker visits.

It cost a lot of money. But I am honestly not being in anyway hostile. Just sharing an experience ;)

Gatorade Wed 22-Aug-12 09:16:40

I know you're not being hostile (you're actually being very helpful), and I fully admit I'm very naieve about the costs involved.

I can see from your example that it can be expensive, I can also see that logistically it is probably easier/more cost efficient for LA's to pay a standard rate rather than adopt an expense reimbursement policy.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 09:33:53

Oh gosh I can't imagine how that would work out. Can you imagine the receipts! grin

Don't be put off.
But I really think FC needs to be given the important staus it deserves.I think that would help weed out some of those who shouldn't be doing it iyswim.

bonnieslilsister Wed 22-Aug-12 10:19:12

Gatorade In answer to your remark Bonnie I'm interested in your point about families only being interested in ongoing support/contact if there were financial rewards

I am really sorry I wasn't very clear when I wrote my post. I was saying to Scarlet that many of the 'birth' families whose children have been fostered and then returned to them might only be interested in on going support if there was money involved.

This was in response to Scarlet saying I think to some extent Family Link fostering is being used by my LA - in that FCs are encouraged to keep in touch and be there to support families once their FC have been returned home

I totally agree fostering should be rewarded by a wage otherwise it precludes so many good people from fostering.

scarlet5tyger Wed 22-Aug-12 10:25:37

Hi Bonnieslilsister, I'm giving ongoing support at the moment and do have another child in placement. A lot of the support is via telephone - often parents just need reassurance - but we also regularly meet and there's been no impact on my current placement as I choose the places we meet to be places I would have taken new child anyway.

I suppose it helps that I fully supported the child's move home to his mum and dad, and that we all got on - I can't imagine how I'd have coped if I'd been asked to help some of my previous placements' parents, especially when I didn't agree with their move.

Can i just ask, are all the potential foster carers who are being put off fostering because of the spare room issue thinking of fostering babies? I'm assuming so as you wouldn't want to share your own room with an 8 year old, nor would you want an unknown, possibly very damaged child, to share with a child of your own. If so, you need to be very aware that most LA don't have a shortage of baby carers and it can be many months between placements - with no money. This is likely to be the reason so many of you are being told you need a spare room. Looking at it from your LA point of view, if they had to choose between spending time and money training a foster carer who could only ever take a very young baby, or on a foster carer who could take a child of any age, they're always going to go with the one who can offer them more. In this day and age money talks very loudly indeed unfortunately.

SecretNutellaMedallist Wed 22-Aug-12 10:30:02

It is something DH and I have talked about, but we cannot afford to lose one income.

bronze Wed 22-Aug-12 10:46:23

No I was thinking of a slightly older child. Would have to younger than my youngest though and hence the need for a spare room. I would assume that all the people who said they couldn't because of lack of spare room had also considered older children.

scarlet5tyger Wed 22-Aug-12 11:13:38

Bronze, then you can see why you'd need a spare room, yes? It's not always just because the LA is being awkward.

bronze Wed 22-Aug-12 11:17:27

I don't think anyone was saying the la were being difficult. I got the idea that most realised that an older child would need their own room and that's why they are unable to foster. Or that the only other option is to take on babies.

scarlet5tyger Wed 22-Aug-12 11:23:23

Sorry, I think I was swayed by the poster who said they'd tried numerous LAs and been told by each that they needed a spare room. I was just trying to explain why that might be.

OhDoAdmitMrsDeVere Wed 22-Aug-12 12:07:07

Scarlet I do understand the reasons why smile
But it is still a barrier.
I will never be able to foster older children because my youngest is two and I am 45. My two and four year old share a room and my 9 year old is unlikely to be able to leave home in the way we expect our children to iyswim.

My strength and experience is with v.young, traumatised and drug affected and/or disabled children.
I am a specialist child development worker and would love to be able to work one to one with babies before adoption whilst giving them a home.

Our family set up is not suitable for older children. I recognise my limitations entirely. It's just a shame I can't work to my strengths.

That is why I wonder if a more specialised approach could work, the way some LAs work with therapeutic placements with much older children?

Although I know babies stand a much better chance of adoption IME they also miss out a lot on the services available to non LAC with delays and disabilities. It's something I am keen to work on in my LA. the issue seems to lie with the home borough not liaising or being unaware of the services in the fostering borough. And that just when we get to children, they are moved.

But that is another thread I suppose smile

childatheart Wed 22-Aug-12 18:21:23

The more I read on this topic the more evident the problems are.

As I said earlier Fostering should not be relied upon as a charity or goodwill, for god sake we are talking about a childs future, a whole generation. From what I can see the whole system from top to bottom is in need of an entire overhaul (stating the obvious !!).

Furthermore, LA's need to stop pussy footing around and recognise the professional role FC's undertake and treat it as such, because without them the sytem would collapse!

Sorry to rant but where children are concerned I am bemused at the appearing to care when infact only "lip service" is being played.

Panadbois Thu 23-Aug-12 08:25:08

I'm only just realising how expensive it is to look after babies. I get roughly £20 a day to look after our LO ( an absolute doll) to pay for milk, food, nappies, washing powder, activities etc etc.

Now, if you get a new placement who arrives with nothing, then LA will give foster carers a lump sum to pay for a set of new clothes. Well babies new clothes every few months, 3-6, 6-12, 12-18, 18 - 24, so I'm stuggling with this!

Our LA do not approve of second hand clothes or hand me downs for LAC so it's a real problem. (I just know that someone's going to point out that some clothes will fit some babies for longer, I know this, but when in the past I have moved a LO on with some clothing that were labled for younger children, even though they still fit, I was critisiced)

bonnieslilsister Thu 23-Aug-12 13:13:38

I know pan I can never understand how you get less money for a baby than an older child. I think it should be the same for all ages but that is another thread

scarlet5tyger Thu 23-Aug-12 14:55:21

I'm surprised to hear that about second hand clothes Panadbois. My LA has a monthly support group and we have a table there where carers can put things they no longer need (clothes, toys, books, even high chairs and sterilisers on occasion) and other foster carers can take them.

As you point out, babies grow out of clothes really quickly so often there are baby clothes on there that have barely been worn.

As I've been fostering for a fair few years now I have a large stock of clothes that I've kept and use again. I wouldn't be able to afford to completely kit out a baby without this supply or the support group table.

MrsDevere, I think some LAs do have specialist foster carers - I know a neighbouring LA to mine pays extra for FCs who take on drug addicted babies. Might be worth you asking around once your 2 year old is older? I wish I had as I take in drug addicted babies at the same pay rate as I take in a child with no specific special needs!

Panadbois Thu 23-Aug-12 15:27:56

To be fair, I have received clothes from another FC and also a Support worker, with my social worker's knowledge, but she said, " i didn't hear that" as if to say she was turning a bling eye.

I will be holding on to baby's clothing from now on to use again i have been known to buy summer hats from car boots as I refuse to buy new ones only to loose them every five minutes

Panadbois Thu 23-Aug-12 17:58:37

The support group table is a great idea, I'll bring it up next meeting.

bronze Thu 23-Aug-12 18:18:28

I didn't know that about the clothes. My children dont get new most of the time as we can't afford to. They are clean and well dressed though. It's another reason why we couldnt foster.

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