Protesters take stand against proposed foster carer cuts in Devon

PUBLISHED: 08:36 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 09:13 28 September 2018

Foster Parents protest at County Hall. Ref shs 38 18TI 1546. Picture: Terry Ife

Foster Parents protest at County Hall. Ref shs 38 18TI 1546. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

A crowd of protesters turned out to make a stand against county council proposals to slash foster carer allowances, which they claim would put Devon’s most vulnerable children at risk.

Cllr Claire Wright with Foster Parents protesting at County Hall. Ref shs 38 18TI 1545. Picture: Terry IfeCllr Claire Wright with Foster Parents protesting at County Hall. Ref shs 38 18TI 1545. Picture: Terry Ife

A peaceful protest was held outside Devon County Council’s headquarters on Monday, before the children’s scrutiny committee was due to meet.

Foster carers from across the county, from Ilfracombe to Exmouth and across East Devon, rallied together to take a stand.

Under the original proposals, more than 100 foster carers could each stand to lose between £5,000 and £15,000 a year.

It could affect around 40 per cent of Devon County Council foster carers.

Foster Parents protest at County Hall. Ref shs 38 18TI 1544. Picture: Terry IfeFoster Parents protest at County Hall. Ref shs 38 18TI 1544. Picture: Terry Ife

The recommendation from Monday’s meeting to cabinet was to protect the income for all the existing placements. So a drop in income would only occur when their current placement ended. But this means foster carers who take in emergency placements could lose income immediately.

Cllr Claire Wright said: “The campaign for foster carers has moved in the right direction. However, what we really want is for all existing foster carers to retain their income and for the new rules to only apply to new carers. It is a massive pay cut for anyone. These people are the unsung heroes of our community. I couldn’t do what they do. They are looking after children who are very challenging and deeply traumatised. It is a very tough job.”

A council spokesman said the scrutiny committee endorsed the principles of the report that proposed an extra £1million be invested in the fostering service.

He added: “The proposals would see higher fees paid to entry level foster carers, which is where there is most demand, with additional allowances that reward professional development and that reflect the needs of the child.”

Foster Parents protest at County Hall. Ref shs 38 18TI 1538. Picture: Terry IfeFoster Parents protest at County Hall. Ref shs 38 18TI 1538. Picture: Terry Ife

They also recommended that allowances for children’s birthdays and Christmas should be made on or near the relevant date rather than as part of the weekly allowance, and that the fostering service considers requests for additional support in circumstances where there are childminding or transportation needs that are part of the child’s care plan.”

The final decision will be made by cabinet on Wednesday, October 10.

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