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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!

NanaNina Wed 11-Sep-13 14:54:56

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!

Panadbois Thu 12-Sep-13 12:33:20

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?

jessie26 Sat 14-Sep-13 10:14:59

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.

jessie26 Sat 14-Sep-13 10:25:17

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.

NanaNina Sat 14-Sep-13 12:07:38

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.

Lilka Sat 14-Sep-13 21:55:36

^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'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

scarlet5tyger Sat 14-Sep-13 22:43:53

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.

Lilka Sun 15-Sep-13 00:12:53

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 hmm

Lilka Sun 15-Sep-13 00:24:00

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

Roshbegosh Sun 15-Sep-13 05:32:58

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.

fasparent Mon 16-Sep-13 23:30:52

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.

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!

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.


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.

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 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.

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 ??????????

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

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 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

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?

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 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?

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.

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.

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