• Over 100 Devon foster carers set to lose money under new plans by Devon County Council

    13th September 2018 | News | Claire
  • In proposals coming before the Children’s Scrutiny Committee on Monday (17 September, 2.15pm) officers will say that despite investing an extra £1m into the foster care budget, unless they remove money in this way from the most experienced carers, they will not be able to recruit the new foster carers they need, without overspending.

    However, this is causing over 100 Devon County Council foster carers (40 per cent of the DCC total) huge anxiety and uncertainty, as they each stand to lose between £5000 and £15000 a year.

    A vast and unacceptable amount.  Many say they do not know how they will manage. And many are even contemplating quitting foster caring.

    An avoidable disaster for the children they care for.

    A further 125 foster carers stand to gain from the new proposals and 27 will see no change.

    I first went to talk to foster carers in my ward about six months ago, when the proposals were in their infancy.

    It was the longest community meeting I have ever been to because the three carers each told me about their day to day lives, how the children they looked after over the years had come to them, the challenges they faced each day and how the children had grown and matured – after arriving as emotional wrecks exhibiting violent, aggressive, sexual or socially unacceptable behaviour – had calmed down and were better able to cope with school.

    The foster carers I spoke to that day, who I am still in regular touch with, are all qualified in therapeutic parenting. A vital qualification when handling the kind of situations that would fell most of us in minutes.

    I found I became emotional many times during that afternoon.  What emerged was not just a picture of a tough (and my goodness it is tough) job, but the grit, the determination and most of all the shining love for the children, who the carers innately understand.

    The level of understanding is remarkable to someone who can totally get why hugely traumatised children would behave in this way, but know I could never cope with it, nor would I want to.

    One carer, after regaling me with one appalling story after another about her charge, finished off with: “But god I love that child.” That’s care you cannot buy. Because it’s love.  Healing and irreplaceable.

    I have since spent time with a range of different foster carers across the county and my views have simply been reinforced.
    It’s a 24 hour a day, seven day a week job and it’s relentless. Foster carers are not on salaries, they are paid an allowance. There is no pension or job security and allowances have already been eroded over recent years. This has been reluctantly accepted, but no foster carer should be faced with ANY pay cut.

    Foster carers are, frankly, the unsung heroes and heroines of our communities.  Going about their work quietly. Unnoticed by most of us. Often up at night when the rest of us are in an undisturbed sleep, they are dealing night after night with the terrors and resulting trauma of children deeply disturbed and damaged by physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

    These unsung heroes and heroines deserve better than this.

    PROTEST DEMONSTRATION – MONDAY 17 SEPTEMBER 1PM, STEPS OF COUNTY HALL

    There will be a demonstration by foster carers against the proposed allowance cuts on Monday 17 September, on the steps of County Hall, at 1pm, before the Children’s Scrutiny meeting. A big turnout is expected. Several carers will afterwards, be addressing the committee.

    I will be joining the protest and I will also be speaking at the committee. 

    The Children’s Scrutiny Committee will make recommendations, which will be referred to Cabinet, and will consider them on 10 October.

    Pic. Devon County Council Committee in progress. Foster carers will address the committee in this room on Monday after their protest.