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Foster carers raise concerns about pay and handling of allegations

Foster Care Associations meet for fifth national forum

Pay and allegations were the main topics of discussion at the National Forum of Foster Care Associations on Friday 23 March.

At the event, representatives of regional foster care association forums in England expressed concerns about the proposals being discussed by some local authorities to remove or reduce payments for skills or other forms of fee payments.

Established by the Fostering Network in 2004, and held biannually, the national forum enables the representatives from regional forums of local foster care associations to come together and discuss the issues affecting them and their work.

Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said:

"In many areas this removal or reduction in fees would be on top of a frozen foster care allowances. In some cases these have been frozen for two years while at the same time fostering services are putting considerable efforts into recruiting more foster carers."

Forum members commented that local authorities need to focus on the retention of current foster carers and not just recruitment of new ones.
Allegations and the way that local authorities handle them were also high on the agenda at the forum. In 2011 the Fostering Network successfully lobbied to ensure that clear guidelines and standards were issued for local authorities to follow when dealing with allegations but the foster carer representatives felt that these changes have not yet been fully implemented.

Tapsfield continued:

"We want local authorities to look at their practices and ensure that they support their foster carers through any allegations that they may face.

"Representatives at the forum emphasised the difficulties caused at the moment by a lack of support for foster carers, the difficulties when the matter is not a priority for the police and the absence of required timescales for investigations."