In recognition of the life changing work foster carers do with local children, the Essex County Council Fostering service is set to significantly increase its fees, support and training package for foster carers.
The decision will make becoming a foster carer a more financially viable option for more people in the county and brings Essex in line with the fees paid by neighbouring local authorities and independent fostering agencies.
The increased fees, when combined with the weekly allowance which foster carers receive for each child in their care, mean that from 1 October 2018, foster carers can expect to receive up to £479 a week for each child they care for. A foster carer on a specialist therapeutic scheme will receive up to £600 a week.
Aligned to this are service improvements including dedicated resources to manage initial enquiries, specialist therapeutic support for all foster carers – clinical psychologists and mental health coordinators in each quadrant – respite and peer support for foster carers and a reward and recognition programme.
There will also be increased opportunities for existing carers to be supported financially to extend their homes to provide increased capacity to care for more children.
Phase two of the project will also look at the use of digital options to enhance the marketing of fostering, to ensure immediate and positive response to enquiries and improve the experience of current foster carers. This will include a case management portal for foster carers and social work staff and implementation of an online expenses system for in-house foster carers.
Councillor Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s Cabinet member for Children and Families, said:
“We are delighted to be able to reward our foster carers with a new financial package and increased support and training. We know that stable foster placements provide the best experience for children in care and investing in our own in-house fostering service ensures we continue to support carers to provide the best outcomes for local children
“We need more local carers so we can meet the needs of children in Essex, in their own communities and our aim is to ensure as many of our young people as possible are well-matched with Essex’s own foster carers and can benefit from the excellent support networks we provide”.