Falkirk Council: Foster carers demand more support to deal with cost of living crisis

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Foster carers are urging Falkirk Council to urgently improve the support they are given to improve conditions for the children in their care.

Over 60 foster carers have signed a petition to councillors demanding emergency improvements in support for foster carers and the children they look after. It was forwarded to Councillor Fiona Collie who is the chairperson

of Falkirk's Integration Joint Board which brings together social care services provided by the council and health services provided by NHS Forth Valley.

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The petition was launched by members of the Independent Workers union of Great Britain (IWGB) whose members say carers are facing extreme difficulties to meet the soaring costs of living whilst fees and allowances remain frozen. To continue providing for the vulnerable children in their care, some have been forced to use their own personal savings to make up for the council shortfall.

Over 60 foster careers have signed a petition to Falkirk councillors demanding emergency improvements in support for foster carers and the children they look after.Over 60 foster careers have signed a petition to Falkirk councillors demanding emergency improvements in support for foster carers and the children they look after.
Over 60 foster careers have signed a petition to Falkirk councillors demanding emergency improvements in support for foster carers and the children they look after.

The IWGB says since 2019, professional fees have been cut by 15 per cent in real terms, whilst childcare allowances haven’t risen in nearly a decade. The union added that against a backdrop of rising inflation, these pay freezes translate to a sharp decline in support, and are leaving carers at a loss on how to make ends meet. Since they spend more of their income on basic childcare costs like food and energy, carers are impacted by higher prices more than most.

A recent survey conducted by the IWGB’s foster care workers branch found that over half of carers have already had to cut back on food and energy, whilst at least 80 per cent report limiting their spending on leisure. The pressure of keeping up with costs without proper help from the council is forcing some carers to move to private agencies, and others to abandon fostering altogether.

Gillian McKirdy, a foster carer in Falkirk, said: “The council asks us to provide opportunities and experiences for the children in our care, but in reality the money they pay us barely feeds and clothes them. After a year and half of fostering, my savings have vanished, and I worry every day about how I can continue to provide all that our little one deserves.

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"We need the council to face up to the full financial burden they are imposing on their carers, and to commit to eliminating that burden so that carers can get back to doing what we do best - loving, nurturing and providing for our community’s most vulnerable children.”

Foster carers currently receive £137.18 per week for a child from birth to four years; £156.26 for five to ten years; £194.53 for 11 to 15 years; and £226.84 for 16 years-plus.

Kenny Millard, chair of the IWGB Foster Care Workers Branch, says: “It is unacceptable and unsustainable that dedicated professionals providing 24/7 care for the community’s most vulnerable young people are being forced to subsidise the public service they provide. Investing in foster care is an investment in the future of our communities, and the time to make that investment - and sit down to hear carers’ concerns - is now.”

A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “We highly value our foster carers and kinship carers and recognise the impact the cost of living crisis is having on them whilst they care for Falkirk’s children in their own homes.

“Allowances are currently under review and we hope to be in a position to share the outcome of this with our carers soon.”