Councillors and committees

Agenda item

Fostering Fees and Allowances

To align fostering fees across Richmond, Kingston and Windsor and Maidenhead as part of the successful registration of the Independent Fostering Agency.

Decision:

Resolved that the local offer (fees and allowances) to foster carers as set out in paragraph 13 of the report is approved to take effect from 1 April 2019.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report about aligning fostering fees across Richmond, Kingston and Windsor and Maidenhead as part of the successful registration of an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA).  Ofsted has required Achieving for Children (AfC) to register its fostering services as an IFA.  AfC were granted registration in August 2018 and is aligning its operations to establish the IFA as a single service across all three AfC local authority areas by end of March 2019.

 

AfC’s operational areas currently structure foster carer remuneration in different ways. Fees paid are not always aligned to the skills of the carer or needs of the child.  In Kingston and Richmond boroughs, a small proportion of foster carers are paid disproportionately more than other carers and the amounts paid are out of line with statistical neighbours.  There are also wide variances in the training, development opportunities and the support provided to foster carers.  AfC want to provide our foster carers with a fairer, more transparent offer that is better able to meet the needs of children who are placed in our care.  AfC’s offer must also be competitive, supporting our strategic aim to recruit new local foster carers for local children so that AfC can reduce reliance on more expensive placements secured through other IFAs and residential care.

 

The proposed offer is based on the following principles:

·           promoting the wellbeing of children and young people to improve children’s outcomes in adult life

·           a single, fair and transparent offer for all AfC carers that distributes money according to the child’s needs and the carer’s skills and experience, including incentivising care for the most complex children and stepping down to less intensive support

·           a competitive offer that supports the recruitment and retention of foster carers in line with our sufficiency strategy and offers value for money to the Councils

·           an offer that minimises disruption to carers and potential risk to placement stability, including the number of carers who might see a decrease in their income.

The proposed offer to all approved foster carers, including connected persons’ carers, includes:

·      a competency based training and development programme aligned to the fee bands recognising caring experience and professional expertise as well as training undertaken;

·      a banded reward fee based on the experience and skill level of the carer;

·      a supplementary fee, paid per child in placement if the child reaches a threshold level of need;

·      an allowance based on the needs of the child, paid per child in placement; and

·      continuing supervision and support from a supervising social worker, but expanded peer to peer and therapeutic support.

The following fee model was proposed:

AfC carer level

Pay per week per child / £

Further information

Level 1

195

 

Level 2

260

 

Level 3

290

 

Supplementary fee -

moderately complex

50

The weekly supplementary fee is in recognition of the demands that caring for children with more complex needs places on carers

Supplementary fee -

highly complex

100

Supplementary fee – at risk of residential care

Decided on a case by case basis in exceptional cases.

 

Based on caring arrangements currently in place, the proposed fees and allowances model would cost approximately 1.1% (£28,000) more per year than the existing arrangements on a total net basis across the three councils:

Council

Cost impact of new system per annum

Equates to the Council caring for ?? number of children

RB Kingston upon Thames

+£88k 3

3

LB Richmond upon Thames

-£50k

n/a

Windsor and Maidenhead

-£10k

n/a

 

The proposal minimises negative financial impact on foster carers:

Impact of new system

Proportion of Kingston foster carers impacted

Number of Kingston foster carers impacted

Increase in income:

80%

24

No change in income: 

17%

5

Reduction in income:

3%

1

 

In this borough, only one foster carer would potentially see a reduction in income.  In the proposed model, any carer who would see a reduction in income would still receive 3% to 15% more than carers in statistical neighbour authorities, if they care for a child with complex needs.  An Equalities Impact Assessment has been conducted.

 

A four week consultation period with all foster carers was held in November and December 2018, including an online survey; foster carer forums; and individual meetings with those most impacted.

Phased transitional arrangements are proposed to implement the new system, aiming for a period of up to one year for existing placements, with all carers who are newly approved during this time and beyond commencing on the new system.

Individual arrangements will be made for those who will see a reduction in their income; these will be addressed on a case by case basis in exceptional circumstances, with arrangements focused on the best interests of the child or young person and maintaining placement stability.  Any resultant financial impact will be balanced within year.

 

Resolved that the local offer (fees and allowances) to foster carers as set out in paragraph 13 of the report (and in ‘proposed fee model’ table above) is approved to take effect from 1 April 2019.

 

Voting - unanimous

 

Supporting documents: