TACT and other sector leaders are continuing to urge the government for a dedicated lockdown allowance for all foster carers. The repeated plea comes during Foster Care Fortnight and three weeks after Vicky Ford – Minister for Children and Families, met with foster carers to hear about the support they need during the Covid-19 crisis, and assured them that help will be provided. Unfortunately, that help has not yet materialised.
Vicky Ford’s meeting and pledge of support were in response to an open letter to governments around the UK, from TACT and fellow members of the Fairer Fostering Partnership (FFP), alongside The Fostering Network, the National Association of Fostering Providers and Coram BAAF, calling for financial support for foster carers who either cannot look after children at present because of the threat posed by Covid-19 or are incurring extra costs due to caring for children during lockdown.
Andy Elvin, Chief Executive of TACT, said: ‘’ It is essential that foster carers are recognised as having a key role in this crisis. We are expecting a lot of our foster families at this unprecedented time, and local and central government need to step up and urgently support these frontline carers financially and practically”
A second letter has now been sent to the Minister on the issue:
Financial support for foster carers
Thank you for meeting with us to discuss foster care allowances on 22 April and for listening to foster carers directly about the support they need to care for children throughout and beyond this crisis.
We were pleased to hear your reassurances that foster carers should be prioritised within the additional funding that has been given to local authorities. However, three weeks on, we remain extremely concerned that the money is not reaching foster carers.
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We are continuing to hear from foster carers facing financial hardship because of lost fostering income or increased expenses. It is extremely concerning that foster carers are shouldering this burden in the course of looking after some of the country’s most vulnerable children.
We have spoken with ADCS and the LGA who are both adamant that while they welcome the additional money, it is not sufficient. The LGA estimates that “the £3.2 billion will only cover around a quarter to one third of the cost pressures facing councils as a result of COVID-19.”
The ADCS told us, “this is un-ringfenced funding and must support the breadth of local government services, not just children’s services. Difficult decisions will have to be made in terms of prioritising how this funding is used and that is a matter for individual local authorities to consider.”
Like us, the LGA are concerned that guidance continues to state that children in care are encouraged to attend educational provision, which is at odds with what is happening in practice.
We therefore ask you to reconsider our initial proposals to:
- Pay those foster carers, who are unable to take a placement due to COVID-19, a retainer. This should be administered by their fostering service but funded centrally.
- Provide an additional allowance to foster carers to compensate for the additional costs of caring for their children during this time.
Every year thousands of foster carers must be recruited to ensure a suitable placement can be found for every child that needs one, and it is equally important that we value and retain the existing workforce.
It is now more important than ever that we support foster families and ensure that children in foster care are protected as far as possible from the devastating impact of coronavirus.
Kevin Williams, Chief Executive, The Fostering Network
Andy Elvin, Chief Executive, TACT
Harvey Gallagher, Chief Executive, NAFP
John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development CoramBAAF