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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!

Roshbegosh Tue 03-Sep-13 16:13:51

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?

jessie26 Tue 03-Sep-13 16:50:05

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.

Roshbegosh Tue 03-Sep-13 17:14:41

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.

scarlet5tyger Tue 03-Sep-13 17:25:17

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.

jessie26 Tue 03-Sep-13 18:37:07

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.

Roshbegosh Tue 03-Sep-13 18:54:38

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.

jessie26 Tue 03-Sep-13 19:13:33

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!

Panadbois Tue 03-Sep-13 20:16:02

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.

jessie26 Tue 03-Sep-13 20:24:07

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

fasparent Wed 04-Sep-13 00:16:56

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.

Cassimin Thu 05-Sep-13 13:46:32

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.

jessie26 Thu 05-Sep-13 17:57:22

Hi Cassimin,

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.

scarlet5tyger Thu 05-Sep-13 19:29:39

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?

childatheart Thu 05-Sep-13 20:49:04

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.

Panadbois Fri 06-Sep-13 08:23:28

Hear hear!

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.

Roshbegosh Fri 06-Sep-13 09:09:30

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.

Cassimin Fri 06-Sep-13 14:48:15

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.

jessie26 Fri 06-Sep-13 18:57:31

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).

NanaNina Fri 06-Sep-13 20:30:38

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..............

sweetmelissa Mon 09-Sep-13 02:27:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NanaNina Mon 09-Sep-13 12:15:32

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.

Cassimin Mon 09-Sep-13 13:26:06

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.

NanaNina Mon 09-Sep-13 17:45:07

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.

suzylee73 Wed 11-Sep-13 14:02:29

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.

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