This report detailed proposed changes to the current Foster Care Fees and Allowance Policy. This was recommended for approval to close the gaps in provision of sufficient local placement accommodation, to increase the number of looked after children in a family setting and was an important element of the financial sustainability of the Children and Adults Services Directorate. The implementation of a revised scheme was crucial to improving the ‘offer’ to attract and retain Local Authority Foster Carers in Medway.
The Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been due to consider the proposals at its meeting on 29 July 2021. However, this meeting had been postponed to 5 August 2021, therefore the Committee had been unable to provide any comments for the Cabinet’s consideration.
A diversity impact assessment had been undertaken and was attached at Appendix 3 to the report. The outcome concluded that there were adverse financial impacts, with those caring for 9- and 10-year-old children being most affected by the proposed changes. As a result, transitional payments had been agreed for 12 months for those carers currently caring for these children. Some carers were financially adversely impacted by the change to Skills and Service payment, but the new payment was clearer and fairer in implementation and so improved equality of opportunity.
The Cabinet noted the progress against the investment in the ‘offer’ and improvements at Section 3 to the report.
The Cabinet approved the proposed changes to the allowances scheme for Local Authority Foster Carers at Appendix 2 to the report, as summarised below:
· A scheme based on a defined Maintenance element to meet the child’s needs and a separate Reward fee based on a child’s age and needs in the form of a tiered structure.
· An entitlement to 14 days paid respite for foster carers with children in long and short-term placements, or up to 21 days respite for foster carers approved for children with disabilities.
· An annual Skills and Services payment based on length of service.
The Cabinet approved the Medway concessions for Local Authority Foster Carers at Appendix 2 to the report, as part of the offer to attract and retain carers, as summarised below:
· An annual contribution to the Council Tax up to a maximum of £310 per fostering household.
· A seasonal discount up to a value of £500 per fostering household per year.
The Cabinet approved the revised scheme for Connected Carers
The Cabinet noted the revised financial profile based on an implementation date of 1 September 2021.
The implementation of a revised scheme is crucial to improving the ‘offer’ to attract and retain Local Authority Foster Carers in Medway and achieve necessary cost reductions.