TACT is delighted that Children’s Minister Vicky Ford has responded to the issue of foster carers facing financial insecurity during the coronavirus crisis, by agreeing to a round table later this month with leading organisations in the sector to discuss this important issue.
The Minister’s prompt and positive action comes 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, are calling for foster carers who cannot look after children at present because they are shielding or whose health makes them vulnerable and are not covered by existing funding existing funding schemes, to be paid a dedicated retainer.
The letter states: ‘[Foster carers’] role has never been more important as the coronavirus pandemic undermines and disrupts every aspect of family, education and community functioning.
‘Despite this vital role they undertake, foster carers are facing financial insecurity.’
The consortium also emphasises the importance and urgency of additional funding to meet the changing needs of the 65,000 children currently in foster care who, by necessity, must now spend far more time indoors. This additional allowance would be used for resources such as subscriptions, home schooling materials including laptops, and devices to use to replace face to face contact with siblings and other family members.
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”
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: ‘Foster carers make a vital contribution in transforming the lives of the children and young people in their care, on behalf of the state. It is essential that in times such as these we look after the most vulnerable in our society, and while huge steps have been taken to do this, foster carers and the children and young people they look after are falling through the gaps.
Andy Elvin added: “In order to protect any spare fostering capacity for children entering care at this time it is vital that we support the stability of our existing foster families. Money isn’t the whole answer here, TACT and other FFP IFA’s are working very creatively to support all of our families virtually with access to psychologist support and direct work with children.
But money will make a big difference because carers have additional expenses through needing to prepare more meals, needing additional toys and arts/crafts/activities materials and buying in additional TV channels. A dedicated lock-down allowance would give foster carers a clear message that they are valued and supported. Central Government must act urgently to ensure that funding reaches foster families.”