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Foster Parents

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the remuneration and allowances of foster parents working for local authorities has increased over the past 12 months by more than the rate of inflation; and whether there is now a national minimum allowance.[HL8036]

The Government do not collect information about the level of remuneration that individual foster carers receive. We know, however, that low allowance rates, a lack of transparency about entitlements, and inefficiency in payment systems can impact on foster carers' morale. For that reason, we announced a national minimum allowance for foster carers in July 2006, alongside good practice guidance on payment systems. We expect all fostering providers to work towards meeting the national minimum allowance rates from April 2007.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the shortage of foster parents, estimated at 8,000 in 2005, has been reduced; whether social services, in conjunction with the British Association for Adoption and Fostering and the Fostering Network, have been successful in (a) improving recruitment, and (b) developing training and support for foster parents.[HL8037]

We do not collect information centrally on the number of foster carers. However, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) has recently finalised an annual data collection which will provide a range of information about foster carers in England. The return, which will be completed by local authority and independent providers in England, will include information about the number of approved fostering households. We anticipate that data from the returns will be available for analysis in early 2007.

With regard to training and support, evidence from the inspection of fostering services shows that local authorities’ performance is improving, particularly with regard to the management and support ofcarers. However, the Green Paper Care Matters: Transforming the Lives of Children and Young People in Care, published in October 2006, makes clear that more needs to be done to improve support for foster carers. The document outlines proposals for a “tiered” model of placement types, underpinned by a national qualifications framework for foster carers. The proposed model would be structured around the needs of children, with carers trained and skilled to a level matching children’s individual requirements, and would offer a ladder of career progression for carers. The proposals in the Green Paper are subject to consultation.