Are approved kinship foster carers entitled to the same allowances as a mainstream foster carers?
Did you know that as an approved kinship foster carer with a Local Authority, you are entitled to the same allowances as a mainstream foster carer? Did you know that lots of Local Authorities refuse to pay these allowances on the basis that a kinship carer has a prior connection to the child/ren?
Helen Moody, specialist kinship care solicitor, comments; “At the Grandparents Legal Centre, we have been seeing an increase in kinship foster carers who, having been through exactly the same fostering assessment process as mainstream foster carers, are being informed by their Local Authority that they are not entitled to receive the same fee or skills payments as them because they are related to the child/ren that they care for”.
This is incorrect information. As long as the relative foster carer meets any criteria for being paid additional allowances, such as training requirements, the allowances should be paid. The connected person carers should be told by their Local Authority the criteria for payment of extra allowances and be given the opportunity to undergo any training required. This is what a mainstream foster carer would be informed of and so too should a relative foster carer.
Mrs Moody explains; “I am currently pursuing a case against a Midlands Council in respect of additional fostering allowances. My clients, Mr and Mrs Stevens, are grandparents caring for 3 grandsons since December 2021. They had been in mainstream foster care in the 16 months prior to moving into my clients’ care. My client explains what it is like caring for her grandsons”.
“The boys came to us with a catalogue of distressing and self-destructive behaviours which they had been displaying whilst in foster care and at school. Our plan when we asked to care for the boys was to deal with anything that was thrown at us. We wanted to provide them with a forever home and with a loving family that they could depend on.
From the start, we encouraged the boys to participate in extra-curricular activities such as cooking, football, drama, discos. We enrolled them with local clubs such as Scouts. We encouraged their socialisation with extended family and cousins. We taught them to swim, took them for long walks and bike rides and spent time together as a family. As their behaviours improved and they settled into our care, they started getting invited to school friends’ parties. This was a massive breakdown after several years of not being invited because of their behaviours.
18 months on and the boys are thriving. They manage their emotions in a much more regulated way and live life to the full like any child should. But all of this time and care and love comes at a cost!
We realised that our Council pays additional fostering allowances to their mainstream carers and that we were not receiving the same payments about a year after the boys were placed with us. Looking after 3 boys until they are 18 and beyond certainly started to take its toll and looking at the ways in which the Council appear to treat their mainstream foster carers better than kinship carers despite us all doing the same job, is something that I feel very passionately is wrong. After looking on their website, the Council pay mainstream foster carers with 3 children like us, an extra £461 per week.
I contacted the Local Authority about this and their response was that we are not entitled to the additional allowances because we care for named children and therefore cannot take any other children on”.
Mrs Moody comments “We are seeing more and more Local Authorities use this as a reason to not pay the additional allowances to carers who go through the same process, are subject to the same fostering standards, who care for the same traumatised children and attend the same training courses, to name a few similarities. Mainstream carers will often take children on long term placements and not then be available to offer a home to further children. I suspect that they are not, at that point, stripped of the additional payments. I have written to the Local Authority in this case and hope to resolve the matter without having to issue a Judicial Review. However, if the Local Authority’s response is unsatisfactory, I may be left with no option but to do so. A Judicial Review is a court process, challenging a decision of a public body and one which costs money and time. Hopefully the Local Authority can be persuaded to settle the matter and change their policy before Court proceedings are issued”.
Mrs Stevens is passionate that kinship carers are powerful, vital and important to the children involved and for their long-term futures and outcomes. Research shows that kinship placements provide better long-term outcomes for children.
If you consider that you are in a similar position with your local Council, please contact us for more information on 08432897130