Foster carers who can’t afford to take vulnerable children on day trips plead with council for more support

Frustrated fosterers have pleaded with leaders for more support as they say the cost of living crisis is forcing kids to miss out on activities and carers to go ‘out of pocket’.

Hayley Wood from the Oldham Foster Carer’s Working Group submitted a question to full council after the group said they were unable to get ‘elected leaders to listen to our plight’ and to take their concerns seriously.

She added that they are ‘unwilling’ to recommend that anyone foster in the borough under the ‘present conditions’ and existing carers are ‘tired of not being listened to and leave’.

The group states that its mission is to bring improvements to the lives of local authority foster carers in Oldham and their children and young people.

“Carers cannot continue to care for the children and young people to statutory requirements without adequate resources that are needed to meet them,” they stated.

Council chiefs have said support is in place for foster carers, and a review of payments to them is being completed later this month. However they said the pressures on local government finances meant they could not ‘promise anything at this moment in time’.

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The working group said that a four per cent uplift that was applied by the council to child’s allowance earlier in the year, and a £250 one-off payment had been ‘welcome’ – but this was not enough.

“It does not meet the extra cost to what is needed to carry out our roles and to give the young people in our care the experiences they should be having,” they stated.

“It is a sad fact that carers are now having to make decisions resulting in children missing out on activities, day trips etc as carers simply do not have the funds to allow them to do them, carers are also now using their savings to enable them to live and to subsidise the shortfall they are experiencing due to the inadequate funds they are being given to them to carry out their roles.”

Oldham Foster Carer’s Working Group also said they felt the need to ‘remind’ the council of its role as a corporate parent, and its duty to ensure that carers had enough money to look after children being fostered.

“Oldham Foster Carer Working Group with respect ask that the council act now to ensure that the children and young people and their carers have what they need to meet the national minimum standards set out by the Department for Education,” they added.

“We need extra finances to meet our obligations and we need it as a matter of urgency.”

In response, Councillor Eddie Moores, cabinet member for children and young people, said that the borough’s foster carers do a ‘fantastic job’.

Councillor Eddie Moores
(Image: Oldham council)

“We at Oldham council value and respect our foster carers and we endeavour to provide both the professional and financial support they need to support their vital work.

“The cost of living and energy crisis brought about by the Conservative government is having a significant impact on all our lives and it appears that the government have failed to recognise the problem that they have caused.

“But this Labour administration did recognise a problem and it has worked with the Foster Carers Forum and acted proactively to announce the financial support provided to foster carers by implementing a four pc increase of allowances earlier this year.

He told councillors that there was a package of support provided to carers, which included the basic fostering allowance for daily costs, skills based payments, birthday allowances. holiday allowances and others.

Coun Moores added that they expected a review of the payments conducted by the fostering service to be completed by November 30.

“Oldham does provide a comprehensive package of support for foster carers, of course we would love to do more but at this point I would refer you to what the leader said about the public finances and the problem that is giving us,” he said.

“We will work with the foster carers but I can’t promise anything at this moment in time.”

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Manchester Evening News – Oldham