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Fostering allowances 2021/22

Last Updated 21/07/2021 10:00am


Introduction

Devon County Council (DCC) recognises:

  • the skills, experience and commitment of foster carers caring for children and young people
  • the role foster carers play in working with families in partnership with DCC

This document outlines the fees and allowances models for all foster carers, these are reviewed annually.

HM Revenue and Customs produces a help sheet specifically for foster carers explaining how to fill in your Personal Tax Return. The help sheet HS236 – Qualifying care relief: Foster carers, adult placement carers, Family and Friends carers and Staying Put carers (2021) is available here alternatively, please contact Foster Talk for tax advice.

Statement of purpose

The Fostering Services Regulations and the National Minimum Standards for Fostering 2011 state that a fostering service needs a clear statement of aims and objectives.

Devon’s Fostering Service Statement of Purpose is:

Devon’s Fostering Service works in partnership with children and young people, their families and carers to provide safe, caring homes which value the differences in children and young people and help them to achieve their full potential.

We aim to achieve this by providing:

  • safe, warm, stable and caring family environments
  • comprehensive support for children, young people and carers
  • encouragement for children and young people to meet their full potential and to mark and celebrate their successes
  • personal and group support for carers and their families
  • a flexible service which respects individual needs and values diversity
  • measurable outcomes which strive to achieve, or exceed National Standards
  • a professional service which is accountable, financially viable, and maximises partnership opportunities.

We are working to become a service which fully meets and exceeds the National Minimum Standards. A full version of our statement of purpose is available here.

Basic principles of the payment scheme

We pay an allowance to cover the expenses of caring for a child or young person and the time you spend looking after them. Our rates have been developed in consultation with foster carers, councillors and staff.

As from 21 January 2019 the standard weekly allowance of £213.01 is payable to all foster carers.

If a carer attends 6 training events, then this is recognised and rewarded. If a carer attends 6 support groups sessions, then this is also be recognised and rewarded. These payments will be paid following approval and will be reviewed annually. There are enhanced payments for those looking after a child with enhanced needs. An enhanced plus payment is made to those caring for the most traumatised children.

The payment scheme is designed to establish fair, equitable and transparent financial arrangements across the county. It is designed to make sure that foster carers and social work staff are clear about the payments to be made.

Payment of allowances

Wherever possible payments are made direct into the carer’s bank or building society account. This saves unnecessary administration costs. Carers are paid using the Bankers Automated Clearing System (BACS). Allowances are paid weekly and cover the period from Monday to Sunday. They can be drawn on a Thursday. Please note, allowances are only paid when a child is in placement (this includes the training and support group elements).

1) Foster care fees and allowances

flowchart showing the foster care fees and allowances

 

These rates are free from income tax if they do not exceed your qualifying amount. To check download the help sheet from HM Revenue and Customs.

2) What the weekly payments cover

These payments are designed to cover the full cost of caring for the young person in placement.

They incorporate all costs for:

  • food
  • clothing – initial, replacement due to wear and out-growing; and uniform
  • pocket money
  • personal and household expenditure
  • equipment
  • special outings
  • dental and optical needs
  • activities – including clubs and hobbies (including mileage)
  • school activities – including trips, holidays and associated equipment
  • telephone expenses

Carers should keep receipts for all clothing. There is a clothing list at the back of this book which shows the minimum expectation when a child moves from one placement to another after six months of being looked after.

It is important that children in care are provided with appropriate, well-fitting clothing. It is the fostering Supervising Social Worker and carer’s responsibility to make sure that a clothing list is completed at the start and end of every placement. If, when a child moves to a new carer after six months, it is found the clothing is not adequate, then the previous carer will be expected to reimburse the costs of the shortfall.

Housing Benefits

As foster carers you may be entitled to several benefits including Housing Benefit. Due to the ever-changing benefits landscape, including the implications of Universal Credit, carers are advised to access financial advice from FosterTalk or the Fostering Network.

3) Budgeting

As in any ordinary household, foster carers are expected to budget so that they can save money from the weekly allowance and use it as necessary during the year for expenses such as school trips.

4) Pocket money

The standard weekly rate includes money for a young person to have pocket money. We believe it is unhelpful to be too rigid about levels of pocket money but offer the following guidelines.

Levels need to relate to what is comparable in the young person’s own family, to what is given to the carer’s own children, and to what the young person can expect to receive when he or she leaves the placement.

Age group Suggested minimum allowance
5-8 £3.50
9-12 £5
13-16 £7-£10
16 plus To be negotiated through the Young People’s Pathway Plan

These are minimum figures, and it is recommended that carers create incentives by supplementing the weekly allowance with rewards for jobs done and good behaviour, and with extra for special events.

5) Emergency payments

Placements made in an emergency can be disruptive and, by their nature, can mean that carers need to provide for children before their standard weekly payment arrives.

In cases where children or young people arrive in an emergency with no clothing, or inadequate clothing, a payment of £112.98 for each child can be made direct to the carer via the child’s social worker.

This payment is to provide for the immediate needs of the child and does not, for example, include the purchase of school uniform.

An additional payment for the purchase of school uniform can be requested via the child’s social worker in circumstances where a move has necessitated a change of school, or where the child arrives without a school uniform.

Where they are made, these emergency payments are additional to the standard weekly payments.

The child’s social worker and the carer should draw up a list of items to be purchased and the carer should keep the receipts.

6) Transition to adoptive placements

Arrangement for payment to carers whilst supporting the transition to adoptive placements.

The transition of a child from a foster placement to adoptive parents is a task that needs careful planning and implementation. Each Transition Plan will be different as each child will have unique needs and the circumstances for carers will vary.

  • Foster carers will be paid their full allowances until the last day of full-time care.
  • Foster carers will, depending on the plan, have ongoing tasks to complete as part of the Transition Plan. Any work completed to support this transition will be paid at the full daily rate for the day the task is completed. In addition, expenses can be claimed.
  • No retainer will be paid to the carers during this transition period however support to carers in the form of respite or day care can be agreed to support other placements whilst the tasks in the plan are completed.

7) Birthday and fesitival allowances

These payments are intended to cover the costs of gifts, entertainment and incidental expenses. Payments are made around the relevant time to allow carers to buy gifts. If a child moves placement within two weeks of the birthday or festival, either the gifts or the allowance will transfer to the new placement.

Age group Birthdays and Fesitivals
0-4 £100.00
5-10 £164.80
11-15 £205.24
16+ £249.71

Where children in placement observe a religious festival other than Christmas, this should be discussed with their social worker. The allowance will still be paid before Christmas, and carers and social workers should agree when it is most appropriately spent.

8) Holiday allowances

Holiday opportunities for children and young people in care should be made available and discussed with the child’s social worker and fostering Supervising Social Worker and agreed as part of the Care Plan.

For example, where children accompany foster carers on holiday the carer will receive the holiday allowance. The holiday allowance will also be paid to carers taking holidays which are at home and day trips.

Occasionally in respect of older teenagers and their individual circumstances, for example, when they are clearly stating they do not want to go on holiday or for day trips with their foster carer, consideration can be given to funding activities/days out for the young person as an alternative.

If the foster carer is not providing a holiday or day trips, the holiday allowance may be used to pay for a holiday experience elsewhere. For example, a school trip abroad or residential holiday. Holiday allowances are not applicable in situations where the child is visiting or staying over with relatives or friends of the carer.

Payments are not made automatically, they must be claimed by foster carers in advance of the planned holiday. The resource request form must be submitted by the child’s social worker.

Holiday allowances are paid once a year for each child. Where children move placement during the year and the first carer has already received the holiday allowance, any payment to the second carer will be at the discretion of the child’s social worker and Team Manager considering the child’s needs.

No additional discretionary holiday allowances will be paid.

Age group Holidays
0-4 £426.02
5-10 £426.02
11-15 £426.02
16+ £426.02

9) Personal Education Allowances (PEA)

There is an allowance of up to £300, available for each child in care who is at risk of not reaching the National Standards of Attainment and who have been identified as eligible for additional support through their PEP. The PEA is accessed through the child’s social worker.

The aim of the PEA is to prevent children in care from falling behind other children in terms of education. If the child is already behind, the allowance aims to help them catch up or to support better prevention and early intervention. This is also used to raise the self-esteem and confidence of young people which would also have a positive effect on educational outcomes.

Every school will have a designated teacher for children in care. The designated teacher is the first point of contact in the child’s school for carers and social workers. The designated teacher is responsible for the completion of the Personal Education Plan for the young person.

Carers should always attend the PEP meeting which will set targets for academic and social and emotional development progress as well as numerical targets for progress relevant for their key stage. At this meeting those present will agree how the Pupil Premium+, currently £2,200/year, will be spent.

10) Additional costs

Costs for children’s personal needs and activities are included in the standard weekly allowance. If children are undertaking expensive activities, additional money may be identified through access to other funding, such as the PEA if related to a child’s learning needs, or various charities. Please discuss this with the child’s social worker or fostering Supervising Social Worker.

Costs of £75 can be claimed as an additional contribution for young people in care, to attend their prom or leaving party to celebrate the end of their GCSE year.

11) Insurance for foster carers

Fostering Devon has purchased an ‘all risks and malicious damage’ insurance policy for foster carers. This provides cover for the carer’s property, and property belonging to members of their family permanently living with them.

Carers need to demonstrate that their own household insurance does not cover the loss before making a claim.

Cover is for loss or damage caused by a child in care (CIC) or their birth parents. There are a few exclusions in the Policy, such as, for damage to motor vehicles, computers etc. but generally, the insurance covers most malicious damage. There is a policy excess of £150 per individual claim that is processed by the fostering team.

The policy excludes fire damage caused by a CIC who has a history of arson, but separate coverage can be put in place for such circumstances.

Carers must complete a claim form, which their supervising social worker will send on to the insurers. Any claim that is made more than 30 days after the incident cannot be considered by the insurers and will not be paid.

Carers are advised to keep the damaged article or photographic evidence until the claim has been processed. Carers must also keep receipts that must be submitted as evidence that the damaged property belongs to them.

Please refer to Appendix 2.

Devon County Council’s public liability insurance policy provides cover for injuries to children in placement where the injury has been caused due to the carer’s negligence.

The policy also covers damage to property belonging to members of the public caused by the CIC. However, it does not cover damage caused by CIC to the carer’s own property.

Vehicles are not covered by this policy. Any claims for injuries caused because of travel in a motor vehicle should be referred to the carer’s own motor insurers. Carers must notify their insurance company that they are foster carers and will be transporting CIC in their vehicle.

FosterTalk also provides Legal Protection Insurance to foster carers who have taken up the offer of individual membership, courtesy of DCC. Please refer direct to FosterTalk for advice on this.

The Fostering Support Team in each area has a small budget to make discretionary payments and consideration will be given to assisting carers when:

  • carers need specific furniture or equipment to care for a child with special needs
  • carers are being approved to take siblings and may need to buy bunk beds
  • significant additional furniture needs to be bought on approval, or where there is a change of approval
  • equipment is needed to meet Health and Safety standards.

Please ask your supervising social worker or fostering team manager for more details.

Fostering Support Teams also have equipment and books which can be loaned to foster carers as required.

12) Costs incurred on behalf of fostering

Hospitality costs for prospective foster carers or adoptive parents
We recognise that it is not always possible to accurately cost any additional meals on introductory visits by prospective adopters and foster carers – especially when they are taken as part of the foster family’s normal meals. As a guide:

  • for overnight stays use local B&B rate to a maximum of £25 per person
  • for evening meal or main meal maximum of £7 per person
  • for snacks a maximum of £3 per person
  • for trips out/reimbursement of entrance fee, plus childcare costs at day care rates, see below.

Receipts will be required wherever possible.

Day care rates
Recommended day care payments are £10 per hour per child – to be agreed in advance between the carer and Fostering Devon. This is to cover day care expenses when the carer is asked to undertake tasks by Fostering Devon.

Evening babysitting rate, where needed to allow carers to attend support groups for example, can be claimed at £5 per hour (not per child) to a maximum of £25 per evening. This is to be claimed against the youngest child in placement.

Claims to be agreed in advance between the carer and Fostering Devon.

To claim for childminding the foster carer or the childminder will need to complete the CiC3b form and provide this to the child’s social worker who will send it on to Finance along with a resource request form for processing.

Receipts do not need to be attached but must be retained by the foster carer for 2 years and produced if requested for audit.

Payments to childminders who are registered with Ofsted to look after children overnight
These will be paid at weekly allowance rates, pro rata for each day or part-day of the placement. The childminder must be registered for overnight stays.

13) Transport

Carers can claim all allowable transport costs associated with the child. It is expected that wherever possible and appropriate, carers will be responsible for the transport of children in placement.

All car and bus journeys made solely on behalf of the foster child must be detailed on the CiC3b claim form, which is submitted monthly to the child’s social worker.

Allowable costs include journeys:

  • to school or college, unless a significant distance is involved, then transport arrangements will be negotiated with carers or provided by DCC
  • to doctors, dentists, hospitals and other therapeutic clinics
  • to make contact with family members and others, as negotiated with carers and detailed in the Care Plan
  • in connection with the potential placement of a child

Fostering Devon will also meet the transport costs through the relevant finance clerk for carers attending:

  • Fostering Devon meetings, including support groups
  • court
  • training events

Fostering Devon expects that carers will involve young people in their care in the normal activities of everyday family life – such as trips to the beach and weekend outings. These are not regarded as being costs associated solely with the child. However, transport costs can be claimed where activities have been previously agreed with the social worker, or form part of the child’s Care Plan.

Carers using their own cars
All the mileage outlined above must be claimed each month on the CiC3a for non-child related mileage, for example, attendance at training courses or Support Groups and the CiC3b Form for mileage related to a child, for example, attendance at CIC Review meetings, Doctors appointments. Carers must clearly state the meeting or name and location of the training course attended to ensure costs are taken from the correct budget. All claims made outside of a three-month period will need senior management approval before being processed. All carers must retain all receipts supporting expenses claims. Storage can be made in any envelope and must have the following information written on the outside: carer’s name, CareFirst number, period covered and contact telephone number.

Carers are responsible for keeping receipts for two full financial years. Receipts may be requested for compliance inspection at any time during this period and failure to provide them may result in expenses being reclaimed by Devon County Council.

The rate for mileage will be at the current Devon County Council rate, currently 45p per mile.

Special journeys, for example those going out of county, need to be agreed as part of the planning and review process. The out-of-county mileage rate is the same as the Devon County Council rate for out-of-county travel.

Please note:

  • if you are looking after two or more children of different ages, related or not, and taking them on the same journey please claim one trip for the youngest child
  • it is the carer’s responsibility to make sure their vehicle has valid insurance which includes transporting foster children, MOT and road tax, and is in good working order.

Carers using public transport
All bus tickets for a child should be submitted each month. If a carer is accompanying the child on a bus journey, the carer should also submit their ticket.

A bus pass for the young person should be considered if bus travel would be an appropriate and cost-effective alternative to transport by the carer. The full cost of a bus pass for school or college will be reimbursed. Where there is a delay in issuing a pass, carers will be reimbursed in full on submission of bus tickets for school journeys.

If you use a car and public transport, please claim all costs.

14) Transport costs excluding mileage

Rear seat belts

At the approval stage, carer’s cars must be equipped with rear seat belts. If your vehicle is fitted with anything other than standard manufacturers’ belts, please discuss the situation with your fostering Supervising Social Worker.

Child safety restraints

If a child has special needs, for example disabilities, then additional safety restraints appropriate to the child should be provided at the expense of DCC.

Safety restraints purchased by DCC remain our property. If the carer stops caring for children with special needs, the child safety restraints must be returned. If removal and return of restraints is impractical, please discuss this matter with the child’s social worker.

Guidance on child seat and seat belt laws

It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that all children use an appropriate child restraint or wear their seat belt. Please refer to Government guidance for up to date information.

Carers are expected to provide suitable child safety seats. If the purchase causes hardship, please discuss the situation with your fostering Supervising Social Worker before any child needed a seat is placed with you.

Carers who use a motorcycle as their means of transport must seek advice and permission from the child’s social worker and their fostering Supervising Social Worker before transporting any child in placement.

15) Help with purchasing vehicles or adapting property

The DCC Capital Loans and Grant Programme contains a small allocation for contributing towards the purchase of a vehicle to help you care for foster children, for example a sibling group. The contribution towards vehicle purchase covers the requirements for a specialist vehicle – or instances where a vehicle is needed to transport children placed with a family, and the family would not otherwise need a vehicle, or would not need a multi-seat vehicle.

Financial assistance to adapt a vehicle, or a contribution towards vehicle purchase, is not an automatic right for a foster carer. Assistance is only given after an assessment of the child’s specific needs or to meet essential Health and Safety standards where foster carers cannot make alternative arrangements.

Except in exceptional circumstances, carers will be expected to contribute to the purchase of vehicles and adaptations.

Where property adaptations or extensions are funded, loans or grants will cover structural alterations only. Furniture and fittings are not included.

Foster carers looking for assistance should talk to their fostering supervising social worker who will consult with their team manager, before providing them with detailed information on the Capital Programme funding, and the relevant application forms.

16) Membership of the FosterTalk

All carers are invited to join the FosterTalk membership, this is offered to all carers post approval at Foster Care Panel and is paid for by Fostering Devon.

17) Retainers

A retainer may be agreed if a placement with a carer needs to be held for a period to ensure appropriate planning for a child. A retainer will be paid at 50% of the standard weekly basic fee, plus the training and support allowance. Exceptions include:

(a) Children in hospital
Normal payments will be made for the first four weeks. Anything spent on comforts for the child, and travel to and from hospital, is to be met from these allowances. After four weeks, allowances will be reduced by 50%. In exceptional circumstances, for example life-threatening illness, the situation should be reviewed before the end of four weeks hospitalisation and discretion used as to whether to reduce the allowances.

(b) Children on holiday
Normal allowances will be paid for up to four weeks.

(c) Children attending boarding school or residential college
Foster carers who offer a long-term placement and are regularly available for a child attending a boarding school, will receive retainers while the child is away at school.

They are calculated as:

  • where a child is a termly boarder and is with the carers for the school holidays only, the retainer will be 25% of the normal allowance. Carers where the child is with carers every weekend and school holidays, the retainer in the child’s absence will be 50% of the normal allowance.

In addition to these retainers, it is expected that pocket money allowances will also be paid to the child at boarding school by the carer. Full allowances are payable while a child is with the carers.

(d) Children who abscond
Retaining fees will be paid on the same basis as for children in hospital.

(e) Payments for retaining foster carers when a child is placed at home with parents or others with parental responsibility
Where a placement with foster carers needs to be retained as part of the Care Plan, all allowances will continue to be paid for the first seven days. After this, if the placement needs to be retained for a longer period, subject to agreement from the child’s social worker and Team Manager and the carers, at 50% of the normal allowance.

(f) Approved places being held by DCC
Where carers are approved for more than one placement and the second and/or third placement is not being used at the request of DCC, because of the needs of a child already placed there, a bed block payment equivalent to 50% of the standard weekly allowance will be made. Any request for such a payment should be made to the child’s social worker

(g) When a young person is remanded in Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Agreement to retain a placement needs to be sought on a case by case basis via the young person’s social worker.

18) Shared care placements

There are a small number of placements where foster carers are providing shared care arrangements – often these are shared with a parent or grandparent. Such placements may involve three to four days each week at the carer’s house.

The principles to be adopted are:

  • full allowances will be made to the foster carer while the child is in placement
  • where the child is with the carers on average three full days or over of any week, then 50% of the standard weekly allowance will be paid.
  • where the child is with the carers on average 2 full days or under in any week then 25% of the standard weekly allowance will be paid
  • Carers should seek independent tax advice.

19) Children with special needs

The child’s social worker should make sure that any relevant disability allowances are claimed. Carers are expected to be able to evidence in their recording log how the allowances are being used to benefit the child.

In situations where special furniture, equipment, or car safety restraints are assessed as being necessary to care for the child, DCC should supply these.

20) Special fostering payments

Since the Local Government Review in 1998 an agreement has been in place between Plymouth, Torbay and Devon County Council about allowances. The agreement is that the Authority placing a child will pay the allowances of the carer’s Local Authority. For example, if a Torbay child was placed with Devon carers, Torbay would pay Devon allowances. In the first instance the carer’s Authority would pay the carer’s allowance and then invoice the placing Authority for reimbursement.

This agreement also includes the payment of any special fostering allowances.

21) School meals

Children in foster care are not entitled to free school meals, even if they were receiving them while living at home. Even if foster carers are receiving benefits which entitle their own children to free school meals, those for foster children must be paid for from the weekly allowance.

22) Contact

Fostering Devon promotes and facilitates contact between a child and significant family members whilst they are in care. The child’s own wishes and feelings must be considered, taking into account their age and degree of understanding. Foster carers are key figures in facilitating contact both indirectly through letters, cards and direct face to face contact or telephone calls.

Contact facilitated by foster carers in respect of foster children placed with them

Where the care planning allows and it is in the child’s best interest, it is expected that foster carers will facilitate up to two contact sessions a week (maximum of two hours each session), in their own home, if appropriate and safe to so.

The child’s social worker will agree with foster carers and their Supervising Social Worker the amount of contact, if any, that can take place in the foster home without undermining ordinary family life and routines. This needs to consider:

  • the purpose of contact – is this for assessment or promoting identity
  • the foster child’s own needs, likely behaviour and reason for being in care
  • the relatives’ needs and likely behaviour
  • the carer’s own family situation, their experience and expected role as facilitators within the contact sessions
  • the practicalities of contact taking place in the carers home e.g. space, location, travel, competing needs of other CIC and/or carer’s own family

We expect all carers to facilitate sibling contact for children placed with them on an informal/formal basis as required to meet their needs.

Contact supervision by formally trained foster carers

For carers who have undertaken the Supervising Contact and Recording training through the Intervention Service and who are willing to formally supervise contact, either in their home or at an agreed venue, payments can be made with the agreement of the child’s social worker. This can include supervised contact both in respect of children placed with them or with other carers.

The payment rate in respect of this formally supervised contact (including recording of the session) will be at SCP 20. A PRISM 7M form will need to be completed by the carer and authorised by the child’s social worker, then forwarded to the Finance section for payment.

Carers wishing to offer this service need to inform their Supervising Social Worker in the first instance and if agreed will be provided with training in respect of how to formally supervise and record these contact sessions.

23) Respite

Respite breaks have an important role to:

  • maintain a child in their own family environment
  • support and maintain complex placements as part of an agreed placement or Care Plan
  • assist carers in maintaining placements when emergencies or unforeseen circumstances arise, for example the illness of a carer or member of their family; or the need for a break if the situation in the carer’s home becomes critical due to the deterioration of a child’s situation
  • allow carers to take a break from the fostering role.

Respite arrangements to support placements
Any such arrangements must be detailed in the child’s placement or Care Plan and reviewed and amended regularly as part of the care planning process and agreed with the child’s social worker and Team Manager.

The respite carer receives the allowances paid to the mainstream carer.

The primary carer keeps the minimum weekly allowance for the duration of the respite.

If, for any reason, a respite arrangement is made and then must be extended due to unforeseen circumstances, for example the unexpected length of illness of a carer or member of their family, then the placement must be reviewed, and consideration given to the future funding of the arrangement.

Respite to allow carers to take a break from the fostering role Carers can request up to a maximum of two weeks per year per fostering household (not per placement).

24) Overpayments to foster carers

Overpayments to carers must be refunded in full, likewise underpayments will be paid in full.

Carers have a responsibility to notify their locality Finance Clerk in the event of an over or underpayment

Process for reclaiming overpayments
Our current system is automated which generates reminders to the carer that are sent out 28 days after the invoice date, following this a status letter is sent out after a further 21 days and then if there is still no response from the carer a Letter Before Action is sent out as a last resort.

25) Review of Child Needs Assessment

Initial Review of Needs Assessment

Needs Assessments are completed for each child by the Placements Team before a placement is made. They are completed with information from the K1 form alongside information from the child’s social worker. There may be times, after a placement has started, when additional information becomes available which may alter the outcome of the original Needs Assessment. This information can be submitted to the County Manager to review and the outcome changed if necessary. Revised payments may be backdated.

Subsequent reviews

The initial Needs Assessments are completed at the start of a placement. It is recognised that the needs of children can change over time. The Needs Assessment can be reviewed and amended if a substantial and sustained change in the long-term care needs of the child is identified. Any additional information which may impact on the outcome of the Needs Assessment can be submitted to the County Manager. If required, the Needs Assessment will be reviewed by the County Manager and Senior Manager at a bi-monthly panel meeting. If required any revised payments may be backdated.

Allowances are subject to an annual review.

26) Carers subject to allegations

If a carer is subject to an allegation that necessitates the removal of the child to allow an investigation, the carer will be entitled to up to 8 weeks basic fostering allowance, including the training and support group element payment of £329.07. This will apply to each child who has been removed. Fostering Devon will not pay for any agreed retainers or bed blocks in place at that time.

Payment will cease either at 8 weeks or earlier if the investigation has concluded and an outcomes meeting has been held. In exceptional circumstances the Senior Manager for Corporate Parenting can vary this.

Should the outcome of the investigation conclude that there is a requirement for further re-assessment or training needs prior to the foster carers resuming the fostering role, no payments will be made through these processes.

Foster carers subject to allegations will be entitled to independent support through

Foster Talk’s, ‘Foster Carers Independent Support Service’ (FISS) visit www.fostertalk.org/fiss/allegations-against-foster-carers for an information leaflet. This will be initiated through your fostering Team Manager and the County Manager for Placements and Permanence will authorise an initial 10 hours support. Any additional support required will be at the discretion of the County Manager.

27) Training expenses

Fees for carers, who are trained trainers, offering training to others are paid at an hourly rate, and include time taken for preparation. Please make claims for the Skills to Foster courses and the information evenings using the CiC1 Form and clearly state the title of the group or training attended.

Skills to Foster
As an experienced foster carer £20 (half day) £40 (full day)

As a young person in care £20 (half day) – voucher or cash
£40 (full day) – voucher or cash

Young people contributing Skills to Foster sessions will be offered a voucher. If this is not acceptable we will pay cash from the Petty Cash account. A cash request needs to be authorised and signed by the Operations Manager, Fostering prior to the young person’s attendance at the session. This will avoid late payments.

Attendance at Peer Guides, Foster Carer Strategy Group and Mentoring, Steering Group.
Payment to foster carers for attending these meetings and carrying out all the duties of their role is £30 per session.

The above expenses will need to be claimed for on a CiC1 form (in line with audit requirements). This will need to be authorised by the group’s manager before Finance process the claim form.

Baby-sitting costs
Expenses incurred as a trainer or contributor to a training course can be claimed back at a maximum of £5 per hour/per child. This needs to be agreed in advance between carer and DCC and completed using a CiC3 form and authorised by the Fostering Practice Manager.

Travelling costs (current Voluntary Driver Rate)
When contributing to training or information evenings, mileage is paid at current DCC rates.

Prospective carers attending the Skills to Foster course, and approved carers attending courses on the Carer Training Programme are also able to claim travel costs at this rate. Claim forms are issued at courses.

Any other unavoidable costs incurred while contributing to courses may be met at the discretion of the child’s social worker and Team Manager. This would not include reimbursement of lost earnings.

28) Working with teenagers and care leavers

As young people in foster care grow up and begin their teenage years it is important that we consider how we are preparing them for adult life. Devon is committed to ensuring that the young people in its care are as well prepared as possible for adult life.

We all need to remember that young people will not learn the skills they need in adulthood unless they are taught them by the people who are caring for them.

To achieve this, it is important that we work with our young people to help them develop the skills they will need in adulthood to lead full and complete lives. This cannot be taught in the last few weeks before a young person’s 18th birthday but needs to be part of our Care Plans for young people from the time we know they are remaining in our care on a permanent basis.

We want to see the process for young people moving on from our care as a gradual process in which they learn the skills they need, are supported in making mistakes and given the opportunity to learn from these events.

When it has been decided that a young person will be staying in our care on a permanent basis and it is unlikely they will be returning to the care of their family they will be allocated a worker from the Permanency and Transition Service (P  & T Service). This service will then work with them during their adolescence and into adulthood, to ensure they have as much stability as possible in their care whilst also ensuring that they are well prepared for adult life. Our young people may need and want to build bridges (when becoming independent) and be supported by their family at a distance and if they feel safe to do so – therefore we should help them to achieve this.

In line with government policy Devon is keen to support young people to remain with their Foster Carers up to and beyond the age of 18. For the young person to gain the most from this period of added stability it is important that there are clear plans to help them in developing independent living skills and that these plans build on earlier work.

29) Working with teenagers

To ensure that young people leaving our care have the best opportunity to manage adult life it is important that their care plan includes an assessment of the skills they will need to manage adult life, and how they are going to learn these skills.

This will mean that carers will be expected to help the young person to develop for example their cooking skills, caring for their room, financial management, using public transport, using community groups and activities. This should be taught as part of the day to day life within the foster placement; the Care Plan may set out work that needs to be done in specific areas of a young person’s life.

It may be helpful to use the DVD Preparation for Adult Life. The P+T social worker and fostering support worker will have other schemes and programmes that can be used.

Working with young people aged 16 and 17
By the time a young person reaches 16 years and 3 months the allocated social worker will have completed a reassessment of their needs and written a Pathway Plan.

This assessment will focus on what they need to learn to make a successful transition to adult life. The Care Plan will be replaced by the Pathway Plan. It will continue to be reviewed at least every six months and more frequently if there are significant changes in the young person’s life.

The Pathway Plan should be explicit in the details of skills the young person needs to learn and how the young person will learn them. Foster carers are expected to work closely on helping the young person to learn how to cater and cook for themselves. The foster carer will be expected to work with the young person to understand how they can manage on a limited budget, and to plan their shopping and spending. The young person will also need to learn practical household skills. In addition to learning these practical skills young people will also need to be helped to develop ‘softer skills’ like gathering information, time management, resolving conflicts and building their personal resilience.

The Pathway Plan should contain clear goals for the young person to achieve with detail of how they are to be supported in learning these skills and attaining and supporting aspirations. It is important that our young people are given the opportunity to test out these skills and supported when they are not successful to try again.

The DVD Preparation for Adult Life should be used and the exercises and activities should be specified in the Pathway Plan. In addition to the DVD there are other programmes and activities that can be used to support a young person. The Permanency and Transition worker or the fostering Support Worker will be able to discuss this further.

If a young person is working full time it is expected that they contribute towards their keep. Please refer to the Devon Local Offer on the Stand Up Speak Up website.

As part of the process of helping the young person to achieve independence consideration must be given to how their accommodation needs are going to be met after age 18. One option may be to stay put – see below. Other options may be to return to the birth family, a move to supported housing or their own accommodation. This will mean that the young person will have to have an interview with the local housing department when they are about 17 years 6 months.

Staying Put Arrangements – Young People aged 18-21 remaining with their foster carers.

Devon has developed a Staying Put Policy which has been in effect for several years and many young people have been supported in these arrangements. The policy is available to read here.

Staying Put allows young people to remain with their carers beyond their 18th birthday with certain key changes from fostering which are outlined below. It is recognised that many care leavers, like other young people should be able to remain living with their carers if this meets their need to do so and DCC shares this ambition. The research on Staying Put is showing that many young people only want to extend the time they remain with their foster carers by 9 to 18 months, and this is often linked to completing an academic course.

Once a young person reaches 18 they are no longer a CIC and the placement can no longer be classed as a foster placement. The legal basis on which they occupy the property becomes one of an ‘excluded licensee’ and they are effectively lodging in the carers’ home.

If the young person has enduring health and learning issues they may meet the social care services criteria for Fair Access to Adult Care assessment (FACS) and the arrangements for continuing the placement could come under this scheme. This is likely only to apply to a few young people who are supported by the Integrated Children’s Service.

If a carer intends to continue fostering other children, they will remain subject to fostering regulations. If the carer decides not to continue to foster they will need to resign as a carer. Depending on their, and the young person’s plans, a decision will be made about the level of supervision they will receive if they decide to resign as carers. As a minimum it will be expected that DBS checks will be undertaken on any adults who move into the household.

The carer will provide a similar level of care and the young person will be able to benefit from living in the household and having access to kitchen and laundry facilities. The Pathway Plan will specify tasks that the carer will undertake to support the young person develop their independent living skills.

The payment levels which have been agreed are as follows:

  1. Where the young person turns 18 during their final academic year and continues to live with their carers they will be paid full allowances until the official school leaving date.
  2. If the young person continues to stay with their carer beyond this date all carers will receive a flat rate allowance of £270.76.

There is an expectation that Pathway Plans will still be utilised to actively move young people on into independent living and that the young person will themselves be financially contributing to their upkeep through their receipt of benefit or income from employment. Any contributions that the young person does make will be payable to DCC rather than the carer. There is also a clear expectation that Housing Benefit claims will be made in respect of the young person prior to their 18th birthday and payable to DCC.

The young person may be entitled to claim Income Support if they are in non-advanced education or a single parent carer; or Job Seekers Allowance or the Employment and Support Allowance if they have a limited capacity to work. From this income, they will be expected to contribute £20 per week toward the cost of their food, heating and lighting. This money will be paid to DCC. If the young person is working and receiving a wage they will also be expected to contribute towards their care.

If the young person is attending University and it has been agreed that a retainer is to be paid, it is recommended that when they are at home, during holiday time and weekends the carer should receive the full Staying Put allowance of £270.76 per week. While the young person is away, a retainer will be paid to carers at 25% of the Staying Put allowance. If the young person joins the Armed Forces a retainer will be paid for the first 12 weeks which will cover the initial training period.

Financial implications can be explored via FosterTalk financial advice.

The carer’s insurance scheme will apply to Staying Put placements.

In addition to the support that can be offered to young people and their carers under the Staying Put arrangement the following support is available to the young person:

  • a Setting Up Grant of up to £1400 when they are leaving care which can be used for setting up costs. This must include a TV Licence and content insurance for the first year. It does not need to be spent in one go but can be used until the young person reaches age 21. Driving lessons (where it is a need identified in their Pathway Plan) may also be funded
  • a dowry of up to £200 a year to support them with their Pathway Plan
  • help from DCC with:
    • registration fees
    • course fees
    • exam fees
    • equipment needed, course books
    • activities to do with the course
    • transport to and from the course centre
    • any clothes needed to do the course
    • financial support for young people who want to go onto study in Higher Education.

Child and parent fostering

Our child and parent fostering arrangements allow assessments in relation to parenting capacity to be undertaken in a robust and client-centred manner within a family setting. The arrangements can help parents learn and develop better parenting skills and to keep their children safe from harm. We keep focused on ensuring the right outcome for the child is achieved.

These family-based placements involve placing a baby or child and one or both parents in a family home. There they receive the support and guidance they need from a specialist foster carer. This kind of placement is usually a result of court proceedings. These placements are considered as a direct alternative to residential parenting placements and will involve supporting and assessing parents with complex needs. The arrangements will have a role in teaching and scaffolding parenting skills whilst also undertaking a formal assessment process which will determine the care plan for the baby. There is an expectation that carers will endeavour to educate, advise and support parents in placement and model appropriate parenting behaviour. At all times the welfare of the baby/child in placement is the paramount consideration and all the involved professionals must have that as their primary focus.

The Assessing Social Worker and foster carers keep regular records of the progress in placement which will be shared with the parent, and the carer will contribute to the overall assessment. Carers records can be made available to the court to support the legal process. Child and parent Placements are normally agreed for up to 15 weeks duration. The arrangement can be extended beyond 15 weeks with the agreement of carers if there are significant changes in the child’s care plan.

In principle, it is understood that no other placements can be taken simultaneously alongside a child and parent arrangement unless this has been agreed by the service. This reflects the complexity of the child and parent placements.

Child and parent carers are expected to take three C+P arrangement placements per year on the basis that each placement will last 15 weeks. Carers receive four weeks holiday allowance per year.

The holiday allowance is based on C+P carers being available for 45 weeks a year. This will be paid pro rata when carers are only available for part of the year.

The holiday allowance is only paid to carers who provide full time placements.

A foster carer is not expected to take a holiday during a child and parent arrangement. Parachute Care will be provided by agreement as an alternative because of an emergency situation/in exceptional circumstances.

Weekly rate 2021/2022 Daily rate 2021/2022
1 Parent and 1 child £959.54 £137.08
1 Parent and 2 children £1110.98 £158.71
2 Parents and 1 child £1161.53 £165.93
2 Parents and 2 Children (£150 each for any additional child) £1313.04 £187.58
1 Parent and 1 Child with another parent having contact in placement for 3 days or more per week £1161.53 £165.93
Baby/child only in placement Full CPAT rate paid for 7 days (if parent has a break and placement held open). This can be extended for further 28 days, after which rate reduces to £504.72 per week or

£329.07 per baby/child if more than one in placement.

Full CPAT rate paid for 7 days (if parent has a break and placement held open). This can be extended for further 28 days, after which rate reduces to £504.72 per week or

£329.07 per baby/child if more than one in placement.

Retainer £360.00 £51.43
Holiday £360.00 £51.43

Carer’s community assessment / parachute care hourly rate:

Parachute care up to 6 hours= £20.00 per hour.

More than 6 hours and up to 24 hours = £137.08 per 24-hour period.

Community assessment/support and retainer = 50% of the weekly fee for the placement for up to 3 weeks.

PACE foster care

Devon County council have been working closely with Devon and Cornwall Police to develop a service that will provide PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act) beds with our foster carers for children and young people who have been charged for an offence by the police and denied bail.

This is important as we recognise that children or young people are vulnerable in a custody setting and should be treated differently to adults in Police custody,

and Police cells are not a suitable place for children. We are pleased to announce that we now have two of our fostering households who are experienced in providing remand beds working together to ensure that we can offer PACE beds 24/7 all year.

PACE Weekly Rate 2021/2022 Daily Rate 2021/2022
Per placement £489.09 £69.87
Retainer £300.02 £42.86

Complaints

In the event of disagreement about allowances that cannot be resolved by discussion between the carer, their fostering supervising social worker and the relevant locality team, carers should refer to the DCC complaints procedure.

There are a number of ways that you can give feedback or complain, take a look at the website to find out more or email customer.relations@devon.gov.uk or call 0800 212783.

If you do not feel that your complaint has been dealt with adequately by the complaints procedure, you can contact Ofsted.

Questions or queries

If you have any queries about the foster carer fees and allowances please contact your fostering Supervising Social Worker or the Operations Manager, Fostering.

Appendix 1 minimum items of clothing

This list has been drawn up by foster carers as a guide to the minimum that should be handed over when a child moves from one placement to another.

An assessment of a child’s clothing needs will be included in the placement plan. Carers are required to make a list of all clothing when children arrive, and when they leave. This can then be countersigned as an accurate record by the Fostering Supervising Social Worker. A form is available from your local Fostering Team. This will avoid any issues arising at a later date about inadequate clothing.

Wherever possible the continuing contribution of those with parental responsibility should be encouraged. The statutory reviews offer opportunities to address clothing needs and make sure that they are being met appropriately.

The clothes should be sufficient quality and size to last for the next three months. Foster carers are accountable for the money they have received for clothing, and for making sure that when the child moves on they are adequately and appropriately clothed. Please keep receipts.

Young people age 16+

  • 3 sets of night clothes
  • 1 leisure jacket or coat
  • 6 pairs of socks or tights
  • 6 pairs of knickers or pants
  • 3 bras (girls)
  • 3 tops (for example t-shirts)
  • 3 bottoms (trousers, skirts, shorts)
  • 3 jumpers, cardigans or sweatshirts
  • 1 pair of slippers
  • 1 dressing gown
  • 1 pair of leisure shoes or trainers
  • 1 set of sports gear / swimsuit
  • 1 holdall or suitcase
  • 1 smart outfit (appropriate for job/college interview)
  • 1 smart pair of shoes (appropriate for job/college interview)

Secondary school age children

  • 3 sets of night clothes
  • 1 leisure jacket or coat
  • 6 pairs of socks or tights
  • 6 pairs of knickers or pants
  • 3 bras (girls)
  • 3 tops (t-shirts etc)
  • 3 bottoms (trousers, skirts, shorts)
  • 3 jumpers, cardigans or sweatshirts
  • 1 pair of slippers
  • 1 dressing gown
  • 1 pair of leisure/play shoes or trainers
  • 1 pair of wellies
  • 1 pair of school shoes
  • 1 school coat
  • 2 sets of school uniform
  • 1 set of sports gear/swimwear
  • 1 holdall or suitcase

Primary school age children

  • 3 sets of nightclothes
  • 1 leisure jacket or coat
  • 4 vests
  • 6 pull-ups, if needed
  • 6 pairs of socks or tights
  • 6 pairs of knickers or pants
  • bras as needed (girls)
  • 3 tops (t-shirts etc)
  • 3 bottoms (trousers, skirts, shorts)
  • 3 jumpers, cardigans or sweatshirts
  • 1 pair of slippers
  • 1 dressing gown or sleep-suit
  • 1 pair of leisure/play shoes or trainers
  • 1 pair of wellies
  • 1 pair of school shoes
  • 1 school coat
  • 2 sets of school uniform
  • 1 set of sports gear/swimwear
  • 1 holdall or suitcase
  • 1 hat and pair of gloves

Pre-school age children

  • 3 sets of nightclothes
  • 1 leisure jacket or coat
  • 4 vests
  • 6 nappies or pull-ups if needed
  • 6 pairs of socks or tights
  • 6 pairs of knickers or pants
  • 3 tops (t-shirts etc)
  • 3 bottoms (trousers, skirts, shorts)
  • 3 jumpers, cardigans or sweatshirts
  • 1 pair of slippers
  • 1 dressing gown or sleep-suit
  • 1 pair of leisure/play shoes
  • 2 sets of school uniform, if needed
  • 1 pair of wellies
  • 1 holdall or suitcase
  • 1 hat and pair of gloves

Babies – birth to one year

  • 3 sets of day clothes
  • 3 sets of nightclothes (or babygrows)
  • 1 leisure jacket or coat
  • 6 vests
  • 12 nappies
  • 6 pairs of socks or tights
  • 3 jumpers, cardigans or sweatshirts
  • 1 dressing gown or sleep-suit
  • 1 holdall or suitcase
  • 1 hat and pair of gloves
  • 1 red book

Everything must fit and be in good condition

Appendix 2

Summary of insurance cover for foster carers provided by Devon County Council and arranged by Standard Securities

A. All risks and malicious damage

This provides cover for foster carers’ property and property belonging to members of their family permanently residing with them. Cover is in respect of loss or damage caused by a CIC and also includes wilful damage maliciously inflicted by the child’s natural parents. There is no limit as to the age of the foster child or young person in care.

It is not intended as a substitute for sensible household insurance and does not cover situations where a claim can be made against an existing buildings or contents policy. It does cover malicious damage and theft by a foster child,

including theft of money up to a maximum of £250. The maximum in respect of theft of jewellery by a foster child is £2,000. Loss or damage to carers’ motor vehicles is excluded.

The limit of cover for any one occurrence is £100,000 excluding the first £150 of each incident.

Claims procedure for A
A claim form can be obtained from your Supervising Social Worker. It should be completed as soon as possible after the incident and returned in the first instance to your Supervising Social Worker who will forward it to Standard Securities.

The important points to remember.

  • The age or date of birth of the child causing the damage should be indicated
  • Invoices in respect of damaged or stolen items should be provided if available
  • An estimate or evidence of replacement cost must be provided with the claim
  • For lower cost items extracts from a reputable catalogue are acceptable.
  • An incident which may give rise to a claim must be notified within 30 days. This applies particularly where there is an injury to a foster child
  • For larger claims the insurance company may wish to appoint a Loss Adjuster.