Foster carers provide much-needed support and security for often very vulnerable children. It is important that foster carers are provided with the necessary development, support and training to equip them with the skills they need to look after children, including those with complex needs. The regulations, guidance and national minimum standards for fostering services set out the minimum required support that fostering services should be providing to their foster carers.
Local authorities are responsible for the maintenance of looked-after children. Where a child is placed in foster care, the cost of caring for the child is paid to the foster carer in the form of a fostering allowance. To ensure that no foster carer is out of pocket because of their caring role, a national minimum allowance (NMA) was introduced. Rates are published up to 2012-13. Local authorities are expected to pay over the basic NMA if the child needs it and their individual costs are anticipated to be higher. Many fostering services will pay a fee in addition to the allowance in recognition of the foster carer's time, experience and skills.
Fostering services must make sure their foster carers understand any support, fees, allowances and holiday they will receive, including in cases of dispute with the service or gaps in placements.
We are funding a number of initiatives to improve support and development opportunities for foster carers, including continuing to support KEEP as part of our Intensive Interventions Programme. KEEP is an evidence-based programme that aims to increase foster carers' parenting skills. Applications for the 2011 funding round have now closed, but fostering services interested in this training should contact the national MTFC team.
The Government also funds Fosterline, the confidential advice line for foster carers and prospective foster carers that provides independent, impartial advice about fostering issues.
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Rates for fostering allowance from 2010 to 2013.
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Guidance for foster carers and their families when an allegation of abuse or neglect is made against them.
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The confidential advice line for foster carers, providing independent, impartial advice about fostering issues.
A programme designed for mainstream foster and kinship carers which aims to increase parenting skills and improve child outcomes.