Following the publication of our cost-of-living report we wanted to share with you the latest updates, progress and responses along with details of our members only events designed to support carers and their finances.
Foster carers, continue to have your say and voice heard! Following the feedback we received from thousands of our members for our Cost of Living Crisis report, we wanted to go further in helping raise awareness of the issues and challenges carers face, which is why we’ve started this petition and are encouraging you to sign it here
BBC and Press Coverage
We were invited by the BBC to discuss our report on the ‘You and Yours Show’ on BBC Radio 4. FosterTalk’s Director of Operations, Rachel Cole was joined by foster carer John Stokes and host Peter White to discuss our findings and campaign for change. You can re-listen here (skip to 11.20)
BBC Look North have highlighted the cost of living concerns raised by thousands of foster carers in our recent report. Hear from foster carer Jakki Willby and FosterTalk’s Ruth Willetts in their article here
FosterTalk’s Rachel Cole featured on BBC Look North and BBC Breakfast to share our cost of living report in early November.
We met with the Department for Education to share and discuss our cost-of-living report. Following a positive discussion highlighting the reports key findings and recommendations for change the DfE have thanked us for sharing our research and would also like to thank all of the foster carers who took part.
They have advised that ministers receive regular updates on the impact of the cost of living across the education and children’s care services and our report will be very helpful in bringing out the details on how this impacting foster carers across the UK.
We contacted the Welsh Government to highlight our findings and they have provided the following response:
Welsh Government recognises that foster carers play a crucial role in the provision of care and support for some of our most vulnerable children in our society. The dedication and commitment they bring to the role is hugely significant in promoting the wellbeing of the children and young people in their care, thus helping them to thrive.
We know that households across Wales are facing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, and the Welsh Government is doing everything it can to support people in Wales. On 14 February the Minister for Finance and Local Government, announced more than £330 million to help people tackle the cost-of-living crisis. This comprised £180m provided by the UK Government with additional funds utilised from elsewhere within the Welsh Government Budget.
To help households with the cost-of-living crisis, £152m has been allocated to provide a £150 cost-of-living payment to all households who live in properties in council tax bands A-D, and all households who are recipients of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme in properties in council tax bands A-I.
In addition, a further £25m has been allocated to a Discretionary Scheme. This scheme enables local authorities to use their local knowledge to help households who may be struggling. As part of this package of support, funding has been allocated to local authorities to use at their discretion, to help support vulnerable families who are experiencing difficulties due to the cost-of-living increases, including kinship and mainstream foster carers, Special Guardians, children placed with parents, and adoptive families. I have attached a link to the Welsh Government’s website which provides further information about the cost-of-living-funding and the support that is available to help households across Wales. Get help with the cost of living | GOV.WALES
We have set out an ambitious programme of reform for children’s services in Wales. Over the course of this Senedd term, we will be working to radically reform children’s services in Wales, to ensure they deliver the best possible outcomes for children who are in care. As part of this work, Welsh Government has commissioned a comprehensive review of the National Minimum Allowance, which is the basic core allowance that foster carers receive to cover the costs involved in looking after the children in their care. It is intended that this will set a benchmark for payment rates to all foster carers and this review will include looking at the actual costs associated with caring for a child, and the impact on a foster family’s ability to earn or meet the needs of all children within the household. The findings from this review will feed into our wider reform work which is aimed at delivering the best possible outcomes for children who are in care.
Further information will be provided as the work progresses and Welsh Government will ensure that this information is shared with stakeholders across the sector.
We were privileged to be invited to CoramBAAF’s Foster Carer Advisory Board in October to present and listen to the board’s feedback on the Cost of Living Survey and their suggestions for solutions on behalf of the fostering communities they represent. They highlighted the disparity between services in payment and remuneration schemes and the sense of unfairness and even anger this can breed between foster carers, when what they really should be focusing on is supporting each other and the children they care for. Thank you all for the warm welcome and we will ensure your ideas are fed back to decision and policy makers in our meetings.
The cost of living crisis is affecting children and young people across the UK. Emma Fincham, Coram BAAF’s Fostering Consultant, considers how this directly impacts children and young people in foster families in their latest blog here
We have met with the Head of Families and Care at England’s Children’s Commissioner’s office to discuss the findings of our Cost of Living Survey. We had a very engaging discussion about the survey messages, recommendations and individual experiences foster carers shared with us in their comments. We updated them on the work we have done so far following the publication of the survey report and they were interested to hear more about foster and kinship carers thoughts on the financial impact of becoming substitute carers for vulnerable children.
The Commissioner published Part 1 of their Independent Family Review in early September which stated “For children in care there must be no gaps in support. We must take our role as a corporate parent for children in care seriously… We need the services that support children in care to make this happen.” https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/report/family-and-its-protective-effect-part-1-of-the-independent-family-review/
The Commissioner will publish Part 2 of the review in due course and is a member of the Children’s Social Care National Implementation Board. We were delighted to be able to share carer’s views with them directly to ensure your voices are heard.
Social Work Scotland
In October we met with the Deputy Chief Social Worker for Scotland to discuss the Cost of Living survey findings and the specific issues facing foster carers in Scotland. We listened to some encouraging practice that is going on in areas of Scotland in regards to improving foster carer terms and conditions which is supporting children being placed closer to home and foster carer retention, and the work to achieve better for all children who live in Scotland, such as free school meals for every child in years 1 – 5 of primary school. We shared with the social worker the comments and ideas foster carers have been sharing with us around how governments could shape the future of foster and kinship care. Whilst acknowledging that there is much yet to be done, it was heartening to hear of the vision and principles behind the National Care Service Bill which is currently at Stage 1 before parliament and other work being undertaken to reduce poverty and increase life chances for all children in Scotland. We look forward to hearing more about progress in Scotland in due course.
We’ve shared our report with all UK governments and the state of Jersey, the UK’s Children’s Commissioners, and Chief Social Workers, CoramBAAF, Kinship, Family Rights Group, Children England, Care Leavers, NSPCC and we are currently in talks with a number of key decision makers.
Share you views
What are your thoughts on the cost of living crisis for carers? Email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost of Living webinars for FosterTalk members
We continue to support out members through the cost of living crisis and we will be running 2 webinars in the coming months covering carer finances and benefits. If you are a FosterTalk member, please check your inbox for details on how to register.
Members can also call us Mon-Fri 9am-5pm to access support and advice on tax, benefits, national insurnace and finance managemnt. We also offer 24/7 counselling as part of our household membership.
Not a member? Join here