Improvements for foster carersPublished Friday, 15th July 2016
Foster carers are set to benefit from a raft of changes in a bid to help the borough increase the number of carers in town.
As part of the town’s ambitious child-centred borough plans, Rotherham Council wants to increase the capacity it has for placing children with its in-house foster carers. It wants family-based placements to be the natural path for looked after children, where possible.
The Council is determined to remove all barriers which may be preventing people coming forward to become foster carers. This includes increasing the allowance fees. Currently, carers on the Council’s books are paid significantly lower than those paid in neighbouring authorities or independent agencies.
Now the Council has decided to consult carers over this and other changes to make life as a foster carer easier.
In particular the Council wants to attract people to foster teenagers and young people over the age of 11.
Foster carer and mother-of-four Emma Darby, who is currently fostering twin toddlers said: "This is a really great idea and one I welcome very much. Foster children have often been through quite traumatic ordeals in their short lives and so they need the stability a family-based foster placement can offer. It can be quite hard to go out to work as well, as you really need to be around to meet these children’s needs, especially the very young ones. An increase in the fee will help people overcome a barrier which just might have been putting some off."
Deputy Council Leader Cllr Gordon Watson, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People's Services, said: "Our foster carers are real heroes and they need to be recognised for the brilliant work that they do.
"No one goes into foster caring because they want the pay, but if we are serious about attracting people to help us achieve our ambitions for this Council, then we need to make sure we are the place of choice for people to come.
"We need to ensure all children who need a place in a foster home have access to one here in Rotherham. These children are going through enough issues as it is, and if we can lessen some of their burdens then we must aim to do this. If young people are able to stay with a local foster family then this gives them the chance to stay on at their own schools and with their friends, limiting the impact on their young lives."
He added the severe shortage of places for adolescents has meant a number of children having to be placed outside the local authority area because the Council does not have sufficient local places.
This can have severe impacts in terms of children being able to rebuild family relationships and can impact on achievements at school, with sometimes wider long term ramifications for the rest of their lives.
Commissioners agreed an increase in the fees at a Cabinet meeting on Monday (July 11).
A six week consultation process will now begin with foster carers and wider stakeholders over the summer.
Anyone interested in fostering in Rotherham should contact the fostering team.