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Agency foster carers are costing Powys

Created on 11/07/2019 @ 10:07
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Bringing children in foster and residential care back under the wing of Powys County Council (PCC) could see a huge saving for Powys County Council, it has been claimed.

The council’s cabinet was looking at improvements to the service which could help bring the department’s financial issues under control.

Portfolio holder for children’s service, Rachel Powell, said: “The aim really is to demonstrate how we are planning to increase the recruitment of foster carers so that we can accommodate all young people and all of their needs who are looked after by the authority, within Powys. It also complies with our closer to home work plan.”

She added that by accommodating the child’s needs was also the “best method financially for the council overall”.

Head of children’s service, Jan Coles, said: “We can’t underestimate the value of foster carers to the authority in terms of the importance it means for children, to provide a family environment close to home. And they can maintain their education and links.

“The right thing for the child is normally the least expensive for the council and this is an example of that.”

Portfolio holder for economy and planning, Cllr Martin Weale, said: “It costs us £835 (a week) to have a company basically as foster parents, and we’re paying £360. I just like to know how much they are paying for their foster parents.

“We can match that so we’d get more foster parents in house which would save us more money.”

Ms Coles replied: “There are dozens of IFA (independent foster agencies) who pay different rates to foster carers.

“We are targeting foster carers in Powys who are currently employed with IFAs to invite them to come over. We’ve only just started the process and two families have come over.

“We are currently reviewing the remuneration for foster carers and need to do it in line with a harmonisation across Wales that is taking place.”

Portfolio holder for highways, recycling and assets, Cllr Phyl Davies, reminded the cabinet that it was important to recognise the importance of current foster carers and asked for the recommendation to be changed to reflect this. This was made and the cabinet approved the improvement plan.

·      PCC has 41 children placed with Independent Fostering Agencies

·      The average cost is £831 a week

·      Nine of these placements cost more than £1,000 a week

·      The cost of a child placed with PCC foster carers is about £360 a week

·      Returning children to PCC foster carers would save £471 per child a week or £24,492 per child a year

·      37 are in care homes for children not run by PCC

·      This costs on average £3,861

·      The most expensive costs £5,950 and there are two of them

·      In total PCC spends £142,878 a week

·      If all these children are brought back to PCC foster parents, it is believed there would be a saving of £3,501 per child per week or £182,052 per child per year

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