Pay for foster carers has not been properly addressed in the
children’s green paper, Labour MP and former social worker Hilton
Dawson said last week.
He told the annual conference of the Fostering Network in London
that he was “aghast that in the green paper the government feels it
still only needs to consider how payment for skills in foster care
would contribute to recruitment and retention”.
He thought it was obvious it would help to boost the numbers of
foster carers when there was a national shortage of 8,000.
Dawson, who last week announced he is to quit politics to return to
social work, said the government needed to launch a national
recruitment campaign for foster carers, a national helpline,
increase training and recognise skills through praise and
Two-thirds of councils pay below the £105 allowance per child
recommended by the Fostering Network and many foster carers are
leaving because of lack of support and financial security.
Lack of access to pensions also worries foster carers as well as
the suspension of pay if allegations are made against them.
Delegates complained of the lack of access to independent advice
which, according to national standards, should be provided but
One delegate said she had had to pay £2,500 in legal fees in
order to fight allegations made against her.
But Dawson also provoked protests from delegates by criticising
foster carers for sometimes failing to ensure the children in their
care gained the right to voice their views. Foster carers said they
were often left out of decision-making by social workers and had to
fight for their own rights.
Meanwhile, a study of 46 voluntary, statutory and independent
fostering agencies’ working practices has found that many are
beginning to see foster caring as a profession and offer foster
carers career choices within or connected to fostering.
It reveals that fostering agencies are increasingly focusing on
developing foster carers’ skills to boost recruitment and job
The research, by the University of East Anglia, was commissioned by
the Social Care Institute for Excellence and is due to be published
– A Review of Good Practice in Fostering from www.scie.org.uk