Haringey Council has come under fire from fostering providers concerned about the implications for placements of the authority’s new policy on fees, following its investment of an additional £4.3m in children’s services.
Haringey has specified the maximum price it will pay per fostering bed per week in its tendering process. It is a move away from traditional commissioning by councils who have sought to buy a wide range of placements at a variety of costs.
Haringey is offering £680 per core placement for children under five, £700 for children aged five to 11, and £730 for those over 11. Older children with additional needs will attract a fee of £800 while an intensive support placement for older children will be set at £980.
Ian Dixon, chair of the London Independent Fostering Agency Forum, has written to Haringey to express the group’s concern and to request a meeting with the council.
He told Community Care that agencies with “outstanding” Ofsted reports may not be able to offer placements at the fees Haringey is willing to pay.
“This process feels more like procurement than commissioning,” he added.
A spokesperson for Haringey Council said the rates that had been proposed were based on “a realistic knowledge of appropriate fees within the independent sector”.
“These rates are considerably higher than The Fostering Network nationally recommended fostering rates. We have had a very good response from providers willing and wishing to work with us and we are confident that we will be able to put in place arrangements which will ensure future good quality placements for our children in care,” she said.
The Fostering Network publishes minimum weekly allowances that should be paid for foster carers in London that covers the placement cost of the child but no reward for the carer. These range from £146.81 for a child under the age of four to £253.10 for a child over the age of 16. In addition, it recommends foster carers should be paid a minimum weekly fee of £250.