Decision Maker: Executive Board
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
To approve a review of foster carer fees and retainers; including a review of the ‘Payment for Skills’ model and associated foster carer fee and retainer structure, reflecting the introduction of new tiers of carer skill level, and to establish a single set of terms and conditions in a single, rationalised approach.
To approve the use of strategic contingency reserves to fund the proposals.
The Director of Children and Families submitted a report which presented recommendations for providing an uplift in the weekly fees and maintenance allowances paid to Leeds foster carers to ensure that cost-of-living increases did not disadvantage and impact negatively upon Leeds foster carers. The report also set out the proposed amendments and revisions to the foster carers finance policy which had been refreshed to address inequities in payment arrangements and to establish better certainty of payments in different circumstances.
In presenting the key points of the report, the Executive Member highlighted the vital role played by foster carers in Leeds, emphasised the importance of ensuring that the Authority remained competitive in this field to retain and recruit foster carers and noted that such finance arrangements had not been reviewed since 2014. Given the budget pressure that this proposal would create, it was acknowledged that directorate-wide work would continue to identify other budget savings.
In considering the report, the Board discussed a Member’s comments regarding the levels of revised fee arrangements proposed to be paid to a foster carer for looking after a third and any subsequent children, and also regarding whether there was potential for such reviews of the finance arrangements to be undertaken more frequently.
In discussing the role of the private sector care providers in this field, and the high costs often associated with them, Members reiterated the crucial role played by the Council’s foster carers, and the need to ensure that the Council remained competitive in this field to retain and recruit foster carers.
Responding to a Member’s enquiry, clarification was provided on the reasons for the financial pressure which had emerged in relation to costs associated with in-house foster carer provision, which was due to a change in the mix of skilled carers, when compared to what had been budgeted for. In addition, it was emphasised that all Looked After Children required skilled care, and as such the Authority would always look to encourage carers to continue to develop their skills in this area.
(a) That the recommendation and associated funding for a 7% increase of maintenance allowances paid to Leeds foster carers, as detailed within the submitted report, be approved, and that approval be given to the uplift being implemented retrospectively, from the 1st April 2022;
(b) That the recommendation and associated funding for a 5% increase for the fee element paid to Leeds foster carers, to be implemented retrospectively from the 1st April 2022, as detailed within the submitted report, be approved;
(c) That the costs associated with the implementation of updated finance polices regarding costs associated with caring for Children Looked After by Leeds City Council and also the support arrangements for Leeds foster carers, be approved;
(d) That it be noted that the associated costs arising from the resolutions above are greater than budgeted, with it also being noted that whilst the Children and Families directorate will draw up action plans to identify other savings to offset this, there is a risk that reserves may need to be used if other savings cannot be identified.
Reason Key: Financial Impact>£500K;
Portfolio Holder: The Executive Member for Adults & Children's Social Care & Health Partnerships
Other reasons / organisations consulted
Proposals will continue to be benchmarked against any available National/Regional Fostering Terms and arrangements, and consultation will take place with relevant stakeholders on proposed changes to the existing payment structure.
Executive Member for Adult and Children’s Social Care and Health Partnerships
Corporate Parenting Board
Foster Carer Liaison Group and wider foster care community
Contact: Joel Hanna, Head of Service, Children Looked After 07545 604328 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Report author: Joel Hanna
Publication date: 21/10/2022
Date of decision: 19/10/2022
Decided at meeting: 19/10/2022 - Executive Board
Effective from: 29/10/2022