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A CHILDREN’S chief at Solihull Council has apologised to distressed local foster carers over premature proposals to change their fees.

At a scrutiny meeting last week, Vanessa Bishop, director of children’s services, admitted that proposed changes to foster carers fees, reducing some by as much as fifty per cent, should not have been put forward.

At a scrutiny meeting last week, Vanessa Bishop, director of children’s services, admitted that proposed changes to foster carers fees, reducing some by as much as fifty per cent, should not have been put forward.

“I would like to take this opportunity to apologise that a very early version of the new proposals was circulated,” she said.

“I genuinely regret the distress it’s caused to carers. It wasn’t a paper that was due to go. I would not have circulated it at that time.

“We have to make some ground up now.”

The proposals would have meant many of Solihull’s 85 fostering households would have to foster for 75 per cent of the year, and take on extra responsibilities, or lose £117.76 a week.

Elizabeth Calleja of Solihull Fostering Association, said foster carers had been “shocked and insulted” by the plans.

“We have very much come together on the issue which has deeply upset foster carers.

“It’s a very positive step that they have apologised and admitted ‘we’ve got it wrong.’ But we’re watching this space.”

She added that the proposals didn’t value a tough job, which saw some foster carers have to wean babies off drugs or care for disabled children.

Richard Duddell, from the same association, added: “[Foster carers] have a lot to deal with day to day and... having their funds cut by as much as fifty per cent is wrong.

“We work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We don’t get sick pay, holiday pay, respite pay. We don’t get paid if we don’t have a placement.

“We want to ensure foster carers have a fair pay so they continue to do something which is excellent value for money.”

Jane Wilton, head of children in care and care leaving services, admitted there was “a lot of work to do” after the reaction to original proposals.

The revised fees changes will now go before cabinet on February 11, with a final decision due in April.

 

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