Bid to pay Shropshire foster carers more money
People in Shropshire could soon be paid more to look after children in a bid to attract more foster carers.
Recruiting new carers in the county has become problematic due to the low-level fee payments offered by the authority in comparison to those paid by independent fostering agencies, according to Shropshire Council.
Cabinet members will be asked next week to agree to increase the skill fees carers receive which will increase the budget overall by £69,000 a year.
However, this increase is anticipated to reduce the overall costs of accommodating children in alternative placements.
Currently the average cost of an Independent Fostering Agency placement is approximately £41,560 per year, while the average cost of a residential placement is £234,790 per year.
Under the new costing, internal foster placements would range between £12,000 and £28,000 a year.
A report that will go before members on Wednesday says: "Increasing our pool of experienced internal foster carers prevents children from being placed in high cost external provision.
"Increasing the foster carer fees and allowances should increase Shropshire’s numbers of internal foster carers."
Shropshire Council's current fee scheme, which is paid as a reward based on the skill of the foster carer, is not competitive.
In addition to this, foster carers receive an allowance for the child, the amount of which is dependent on their age.
The report adds: "The allowance rates payable to carers in Shropshire are one of the highest in the country whereas the fee rates are one of the lowest.
"Essentially this means that some carers are choosing to leave Shropshire and foster for independent fostering agencies where the fee rate is significantly higher.
"Recruitment of new carers has become problematic due to the low-level fee payments in comparison to those paid by independent fostering agencies."
Skills fees are weekly payments available to carers throughout the year, regardless of whether a child is placed with them.
Under the new payment scheme, level one carers will be paid £80 a week for one child - an increase of £20.80.
Level three carers, who currently receive £229.50, will get £250.
The child allowance fee is set to decrease however. Carers looking after a child aged between 0 and 4 would receive £129 a week, as opposed to £142.86.