National minimum fostering allowances
The majority of respondents agreed that the national minimum allowance should be based on actual expenditure. However, opinion was split as to the methodology used and respondents suggested other items of expenditure they believed should be included in the methodology. Respondents welcomed the inclusion of an element to compensate for the fact that fostered children often had less money from grandparents and other family members.
Respondents agreed that it was reasonable to increase the cost of caring for a non-fostered child by 50% to take account of extra costs associated with fostering children. Just over half of all respondents agreed that the estimate of costs should be updated with average income, with respondents suggesting alternatives.
Respondents agreed that there was evidence to support regional variations in the national minimum allowance, but there was discussion about which regions of the country this should apply to. Respondents felt that rural areas had many cost pressures that were not always recognised.
Respondents were content that the allowance should vary according to age but were less clear about the suggested age bands put forward. There was support for a higher allowance for 16-17 year olds.
Respondents were content with the suggested qualities for an effective payment system but wanted more information on what the exact breakdown of this payments was. There was widespread agreement on the recommendations for the provision of a clear consistent decision making process with respondents again requesting a clear breakdown of the money they received.
Respondents said that there were categories of spending that were best paid separately rather than a component of the weekly allowance. Suggestions included holidays, Christmas, religious festivals and birthdays.
Respondents wanted children and young people to be informed of their entitlements via discussions with their social worker or through newsletters or websites. It was suggested that children could feed into this process via the Child Review or the Placement Agreement meeting or via their social workers. Respondents also felt it was important that children and young people had guidance and support to learn budgeting and gain independence.
Helen Nistala on 020 7273 5898 or Kate Lyons on 020 7273 1286