Kate Forbes MSP has appealed for more Highland foster parents and called on Highland Council to radically rethink its foster care arrangements after new figures revealed that the local authority has placed a child with a foster carer over 300 miles from home.
New information uncovered by the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch showed that:
-One child is placed 301 miles from home
-Seven children are placed over 250 miles from home
-11 children are placed over 200 miles from their home
Ms Forbes said it was “a matter of great sadness” that Highland children were being sent so far away from their birthplace as part of foster care arrangements.
It follows recent pressure from the Highland MSP, who has been urging the council to pay a better allowance rate for foster carers in the Highlands – which could increase numbers in the region and reduce the local authority’s spend on out-of-area referrals.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “It is difficult enough for any child going through the fostering and adoption process, never mind being placed 300 miles away from home.
“Whilst I fully understand there will be times when it is a risk for a child to remain near their own home, Highland Council should not be sending children hundreds of miles away.
“This has all sorts of repercussions, such as different schools and peer groups, not to mention the costs and staff time for mandatory social work visits.
“It is evident that Highland Council needs to review its own foster care arrangements, and that should include recruitment drives, fairer allowance rates and rebalancing costs of sending children out of area.
“If anybody is concerned by these figures, then perhaps now is the time to consider whether they could become a foster carer in the Highlands.”