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Over 100 Devon foster carers set to lose money under new plans by Devon County Council

Thursday, 13 September 2018 4 Comments by Claire

Around 108 foster carers across the county are set to lose a significant chunk of their income under plans by Devon County Council, to shift money to new foster carers, away from the most experienced carers who look after the most challenging and traumatised children.

In proposals coming before the Children’s Scrutiny Committee on Monday (17 September, 2.15pm) officers will say that despite investing an extra £1m into the foster care budget, unless they remove money in this way from the most experienced carers, they will not be able to recruit the new foster carers they need, without overspending.

However, this is causing over 100 Devon County Council foster carers (40 per cent of the DCC total) huge anxiety and uncertainty, as they each stand to lose between £5000 and £15000 a year.

A vast and unacceptable amount.  Many say they do not know how they will manage. And many are even contemplating quitting foster caring.

An avoidable disaster for the children they care for.

A further 125 foster carers stand to gain from the new proposals and 27 will see no change.

I first went to talk to foster carers in my ward about six months ago, when the proposals were in their infancy.

It was the longest community meeting I have ever been to because the three carers each told me about their day to day lives, how the children they looked after over the years had come to them, the challenges they faced each day and how the children had grown and matured - after arriving as emotional wrecks exhibiting violent, aggressive, sexual or socially unacceptable behaviour – had calmed down and were better able to cope with school.

The foster carers I spoke to that day, who I am still in regular touch with, are all qualified in therapeutic parenting. A vital qualification when handling the kind of situations that would fell most of us in minutes.

I found I became emotional many times during that afternoon.  What emerged was not just a picture of a tough (and my goodness it is tough) job, but the grit, the determination and most of all the shining love for the children, who the carers innately understand.

The level of understanding is remarkable to someone who can totally get why hugely traumatised children would behave in this way, but know I could never cope with it, nor would I want to.

One carer, after regaling me with one appalling story after another about her charge, finished off with: “But god I love that child.” That’s care you cannot buy. Because it’s love.  Healing and irreplaceable.

I have since spent time with a range of different foster carers across the county and my views have simply been reinforced.
It’s a 24 hour a day, seven day a week job and it’s relentless. Foster carers are not on salaries, they are paid an allowance. There is no pension or job security and allowances have already been eroded over recent years. This has been reluctantly accepted, but no foster carer should be faced with ANY pay cut.

Foster carers are, frankly, the unsung heroes and heroines of our communities.  Going about their work quietly. Unnoticed by most of us. Often up at night when the rest of us are in an undisturbed sleep, they are dealing night after night with the terrors and resulting trauma of children deeply disturbed and damaged by physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

These unsung heroes and heroines deserve better than this.

PROTEST DEMONSTRATION – MONDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 1PM, STEPS OF COUNTY HALL

There will be a demonstration by foster carers against the proposed allowance cuts on Monday 17 September, on the steps of County Hall, at 1pm, before the Children’s Scrutiny meeting. A big turnout is expected. Several carers will afterwards, be addressing the committee.

I will be joining the protest and I will also be speaking at the committee. 

The Children’s Scrutiny Committee will make recommendations, which will be referred to Cabinet, and will consider them on 10 October.

Pic. Devon County Council Committee in progress. Foster carers will address the committee in this room on Monday after their protest.

Comments

1. At 03:05 pm on 13th Sep Foster carer wrote:

Please note, any gains in funding for current carers are short term only, as once the foster child becomes 11 years old the overall allowance will be down compared with the old scheme. Our 9 year old appears to gain now, but once she gets to 18 yeats old she will have lost £ 17,000 compared with the old scheme. Don’t be fooled by the flawed statistics.

2. At 03:20 pm on 13th Sep Dawn scirah wrote:

We forget that 24/7 looking after an assortment of needy individuals . Individuals who Without the dependable Fostercarer who is willing to fight for their rights and their needs , meeting ever appointment , contact arrangement and giving them as near to normal life as deserved but all children . Supporting them to adulthood and even when they move on there to welcome them as family . With out foster carers these children would be lost to sociaty , left to exsist many become pray to the grooming of the sick low life on the streets

3. At 03:38 pm on 13th Sep Foster Carer wrote:

This is just a “Rob Peter, to pay Paul” exercise. Contrary to what the Council are saying, it is a cost cutting exercise. It has been reported recently, in the National Press, how Children`s Services are being cut dramatically, up and down the land, because of affordability issues. It would have been more honest, if DCC had admitted this, rather than claiming the changes are all about being “fair” to certain Carers, which it most certainly is not.

4. At 11:47 am on 15th Sep Leigh Strange wrote:

There is NOTHING fair about taking anything from one group of people to boost the allowances of others.  Carers commit everything they have to this role yet more and more they are being expected to supplement the cost of looking after the Local Authority’s children.  A ‘fair’ review would not have resulted in the Chief Officers’ report for Scrutiny Committee being received BEFORE the consultation events had even finished.  Devon County Council committed part of its budget many years ago to recruit a number of specific carers for a specific role.  They offered them a ‘professional salary’ in recognition of the fact they were required to give up their own paid employment.  Many made the leap to trust in the integrity of the Local Authority and are now very much regretting having that level of faith.  If Devon reduces the allowances of one carer this year, how can any other carer in the future be confident it won’t be their allowance next?

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