Decision details

Review of Fostering Payments

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Decision:

11.1

As part of our sufficiency strategy, Sheffield City Council are committed to expanding our in-house fostering service whilst continuing to work in partnership with the independent fostering sector. To be able to operate competitively Sheffield City Council need be able to pay allowances in recognition of the need to recruit and retain experienced carers able to commit to the varied challenges of the fostering task. The fostering payment scheme is a reflection of the real need within Sheffield City Council to retain skilled and experienced carers and reward carers for their loyalty and commitment.

 

 

11.2

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the Education, Children and Families Policy Committee:-

 

1.     agrees the Policy on payments for Foster Carers;

 

2.     approves the variation of payments as proposed; and

 

3.     requests that additional allowances for culturally appropriate products be reviewed.

 

 

11.3

Reasons for Decision

 

 

11.3.1

The Placement Sufficiency Strategy for Children Looked After (CLA) and Care Leavers 2023 – 2026 will ensure the Council has set out its commitment in line with its duty to ensure that there is a range of sufficient placements which meet the needs of children and young people in care.

 

Reviewing the foster carer payments is a key part of this strategy to ensure that we maximise family based care for children in Sheffield.

 

 

11.4

Alternatives Considered and Rejected

 

 

11.4.1

Do nothing

Our current pay for foster carers puts us as competitive against our regional neighbours. However:

·       Foster cares feel undervalued by the Local Authority and resign.

·       Negotiation regarding fostering allowances take place on an annual basis – leading to confusion and dissatisfaction.

·       Our current policy does not champion our strategic commitments to education and belonging.

·       Paying skills payment before a foster carer has completed their training has led to

o   demotivated cares to complete the Fostering Standards work in a timely manner, meaning that our foster carers are not getting the skills training as swiftly as they did in the past. This training is critical in supporting the challenging situations that foster carers can face supporting our children

o   Secondly it is resulting in significant long term increased spend in situations where connected carers are approved for a short period whilst long terms plans are agreed for children. This creates a massive financial disparity for connected carers in very similar situations.

 

This option has been discounted.

 

 

11.4.2

Increase all skills payments by the same percentage as the annual fostering national minimum allowance

Our current skills payments are made per child and are competitive against our regional local authorities. Increasing skills payments by 6.8% would cost £175,200. Fees were increased considerably in 2019, and the decision to pay the full amount per child rather than providing foster carers with a reduction in payment for subsequent children was also introduced. Increasing the skills fee annually given this significant increase in recent years does not represent good value for money for the council and therefore has been discounted.

 

Publication date: 26/03/2024

Date of decision: 19/03/2024

Decided at meeting: 19/03/2024 - Education, Children and Families Policy Committee

Accompanying Documents: