Foster care campaign brings massive savings

SAVINGS: Traditional foster carers mean big savings for Barnsley Council
SAVINGS: Traditional foster carers mean big savings for Barnsley Council
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Private businesses charge Barnsley Council up to six times the cost of using traditional foster families to care for looked after children in the town with costs of up to £3,000 for every week of care.

Now a pilot scheme to recruit more foster carers has proved so successful plans to extend it across the whole town are being held back because the council currently lacks the staff to cope with anticipated demand.

Where the council recruits its own foster families, the cost of accommodating a child is around £500 a week and that rises to £800 when a fostering agency is used.

But if there are no fostering places available, the council has no option but to use a private residential placement and the cost of that can be between £2,500 and £3,000 each week.

Traditional foster care is regarded as the best option for both the child, because they go to live in a stable and loving environment, and the authority because of the massive cost implications of using private residential placements.

Most local authorities struggle to recruit enough foster carers, however, and as a result Barnsley Council ran a test project through the North East Area Council, a satellite body which works to improve an area including Royston, Cudworth and Grimethorpe.

That intervention, over the course of a year, led to a sharp spike in figures for the whole town, though the area where recruitment was focused covers around a sixth of the borough.

Area council manager Caroline Donovan said: “The figures speak for themselves. In 2016 the foster care team had 52 enquiries. In six months of working with us, they had 81 enquiries.

“It has been a really positive scheme with big savings but also placing children in a loving and supportive home,” she said.

Coun Tim Cheetham described the scheme as “a roaring success” and said: “It is one sixth of the borough and we have trebled the numbers of applications as a whole.

“If we role it out everywhere, we will not be able to keep up with demand until we have more staff in place.

“The potential saving for the authority is huge,” he said.

Coun Charlie Wraith added: “The only thing that worries me about schemes like this is that we don’t have enough staff. That is because of the constraints placed on us by the Government.”

*A new advice service set up to help disabled people in the same area has been credited with bringing in £30 in additional benefits for residents for every £1 it has cost to run.

The charity DIAL operates the service on behalf of the area council and advice given to residents had led to successful new claims of £87,000 so far, which will be repeated year on year.

A projection for three consecutive quarters of the year puts the figure at £167,000, with many of those seeking help needing assistance with Personal Independence Payment claims.

Now a pilot scheme to recruit more foster carers has proved so successful plans to extend it across the whole town are being held back because the council currently lacks the staff to cope with anticipated demand.

Where the council recruits its own foster families, the cost of accommodating a child is around £500 a week and that rises to £800 when a fostering agency is used.

But if there are no fostering places available, the council has no option but to use a private residential placement and the cost of that can be between £2,500 and £3,000 each week.

Traditional foster care is regarded as the best option for both the child, because they go to live in a stable and loving environment, and the authority because of the massive cost implications of using private residential placements.

Most local authorities struggle to recruit enough foster carers, however, and as a result Barnsley Council ran a test project through the North East Area Council, a satellite body which works to improve an area including Royston, Cudworth and Grimethorpe.

That intervention, over the course of a year, led to a sharp spike in figures for the whole town, though the area where recruitment was focused covers around a sixth of the borough.

Area council manager Caroline Donovan said: “The figures speak for themselves. In 2016 the foster care team had 52 enquiries. In six months of working with us, they had 81 enquiries.

“It has been a really positive scheme with big savings but also placing children in a loving and supportive home,” she said.

Coun Tim Cheetham described the scheme as “a roaring success” and said: “It is one sixth of the borough and we have trebled the numbers of applications as a whole.

“If we role it out everywhere, we will not be able to keep up with demand until we have more staff in place.

“The potential saving for the authority is huge,” he said.

Coun Charlie Wraith added: “The only thing that worries me about schemes like this is that we don’t have enough staff. That is because of the constraints placed on us by the Government.”

*A new advice service set up to help disabled people in the same area has been credited with bringing in £30 in additional benefits for residents for every £1 it has cost to run.

The charity DIAL operates the service on behalf of the area council and advice given to residents had led to successful new claims of £87,000 so far, which will be repeated year on year.

A projection for three consecutive quarters of the year puts the figure at £167,000, with many of those seeking help needing assistance with Personal Independence Payment claims.