To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure foster carers can access respite.
9 December 2021
The government recognises how challenging the role of a foster carer can be and the skills and dedication that it requires. It is important that foster carers receive the support they need to fulfil this role and to meet the needs of the children in their care.
The fostering services: national minimum standards include standards for the support of foster carers. They are clear that every foster parent should receive at least the national minimum allowance (NMA), plus any necessary agreed expenses, which cover the full cost of caring for a child. Foster carers can also benefit from reformed tax and benefit allowances, such as tax exemption on the first £10,000 of income and tax relief for every week a child is in their care. This will ensure they receive the best support for their individual financial circumstances, in recognition of their role.
All foster carers are registered as self-employed and have an agreement with their fostering service providers, which sets out how they carry out their role, the allowances that they can expect, respite and any fees that they may be eligible for.
We think that allowing fostering providers to set their own payment structure (within the NMA) and how they provide respite based on the local and individual circumstances is the most practical approach. It is right that there is some variance to reflect local circumstances, different placement requirements and experience levels of foster parents.
The department remains committed to taking the necessary action to ensure that foster parents receive the respect and support that they need and deserve. As part of that, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, chaired by Josh MacAlister, is taking a fundamental look at the needs, experiences and outcomes of the children supported by children’s social care. We will consider and respond to the recommendations and final report of the care review once it is published.