20 Oct Essex County Council refresh their investment in foster carers supporting Children with Disabilities
For more than 50 years Essex County Council has been successfully matching children with foster parents. This week, as they urge more people to consider opening their homes and changing the life of a young person with physical or learning disabilities, they are announcing an uplift in fees from November 2020. This is alongside a further investment in the support all foster carers receive.
Essex County Council already offer competitive rates in the form of a weekly fee and a weekly allowance for each child, with plenty of added benefits including paid breaks and expenses. This new change though, which in some circumstances will see the fees double, will allow fostering to become a more financially viable option for people across Essex.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Essex County Council, said: “Our foster carers help build better, brighter futures for hundreds of children across Essex every year. This increase in fees not only expresses our gratitude to them but hopefully demonstrates our commitment to attracting more local foster carers for local children with complex needs.
We are proud to continually invest in the training, support, and financial assistance of our carers and review our fees every two years as a matter of course. This year, with the additional pressure of coronavirus restrictions, the work of our foster carers has undoubtedly become more of a challenge, so it feels a timely recognition of the work and skill required to care for young people with physical and learning disabilities”.
The uplift in fees is part of a wider piece of work by Essex County Council to improve the support all foster carers receive. Including, the expansion of their clinical psychologist team, additional posts being created, flexible working arrangements and virtual support for foster carers.
Essex County Council are today appealing for more individuals and families to care for children and young people with physical and learning disabilities. Foster carers can be single, married, from a same-sex family or retired; with fostering being undertaken on a part-time basis alongside a full-time job or as a full-time role. To foster a carer must be over 21 and have a spare room.
Current foster carers have a wide range of previous experience, from personal to professional, with some having transferrable skills from caring for adults with disabilities. However, Essex County Council are keen that nobody should discount themselves if they feel they don’t have a suitable home to accommodate a child with a physical disability or enough experience. They have a friendly team on standby to answer any queries.
Although many of the young people do not need specially adapted homes, Essex County Council will supply a range of specialist equipment when required. They also provide high-quality bespoke local training to all foster carers and ongoing support. In addition, there is an active network of support groups providing opportunities to meet and learn from other foster carers, with many going on to make long-term friendships.
Nicola and Tony Hanscomb have been fostering for over a decade. Whilst Nicola has a full-time job as a chemotherapy nurse Tony is a full-time foster carer to their 16-year-old foster son who has learning difficulties, including autism.
Tony says: “I was a little apprehensive initially as I had no experience of looking after children with disabilities, but my wife is a nurse with experience across different specialisms, so she encouraged me to consider it.
I quickly got used to the child placed with us and their individual needs. Plus, I have amazing support from Essex County Council. First aid courses, a caring social worker and plenty of support groups have all boosted my confidence and bolstered my experience.
Before we registered with Essex County Council, we were signed up with an independent fostering agency but transferred due to wanting more localised and bespoke training and support. This experience has proved much more positive with a better understanding of the support foster carers need and an empathy for our need to have occasional respite.
Nobody is motivated to foster for the money, but this uplift in fees and the support we have is certainly welcomed and goes a long way to making you feel valued”.
Similarly, Kim Shears from Clacton has been fostering for 16 years on her own, and currently has two young girls with cerebral palsy in her care.
“Helping a child focus on the things that they can do, as opposed to the things they can’t do, has had a really positive influence on our own approach to life. We’ve all grown to be much more compassionate and understanding of other people’s needs”.
“I don’t see them as children with disabilities, but just children. And my family is giving them what all children deserve – a happy childhood”.
There are three main ways to provide care for children with disabilities:
- Part-time respite care: £12.91 an hour for up to 11 hrs plus £90.00 overnight fee
- Part-time fee paid short breaks for three nights a week: £300, plus an over-night fee of £90.00 each night a child is placed.
- Full-time fee paid short breaks for five nights a week: £500, plus an over-night fee of £90.00 each night a child is placed.
- Full-time foster care: Up to £1,000 a week for children requiring increased support.
Find out more by visiting www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering. The phone line is also still open: 0800 801 530