Kate Forbes MSP has welcomed Highland Council’s decision to increase its foster carer payments following her own campaign for improvements earlier in the year.
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has consistently urged the local authority to do everything in its power to keep Highland children in the region, after her own investigation revealed that kids were being placed with carers hundreds of miles away from home. She has also appealed to more Highlanders to consider becoming foster carers and thereby reducing the council’s seven-figure out-of-area spend.
Earlier this year figures showed that Highland Council paid the lowest allowance rate in Scotland for foster carers with children under 11-years-old – sparking the MSP’s calls to rethink support in order to boost numbers.
At a meeting in Inverness yesterday (9 December), the council voted to increase its payments to foster carers by 20 per cent from 1 January 2020, and also adopted another of Ms Forbes’ suggestions by moving to a fee-per-child structure. Under the previous fee-per-carer model, the local authority paid only one fee to foster carers regardless of the number of children they looked after.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “I am delighted that Highland Council have listened to the consistent calls of foster carers and are now going to implement some of the suggestions that were made earlier in the year. I hope these will in turn benefit some of the most vulnerable children in my constituency.
“Money does not attract foster carers to open their homes and lives to young people, but it can make the difference to retaining and supporting carers adequately.
“It costs money to be a foster carer, not just to care for the child or young person, but also if a carer needs to be at home full-time and so cannot work. Reconsidering financial support could help to retain some carers who are struggling to make ends meet and care for young people.
“Let’s not forget that the Highland Council still has a considerable seven-figure out-of-area spend – so if more prospective foster carers come forward, we keep more kids in the Highlands and this sum reduces.
“That won’t necessarily be the right result for everybody, as there can be exceptional reasons why some children are out-of-area, but it will certainly help some.
“I hope that the general issue being in the public domain will encourage more people to consider whether they could become a foster carer in the Highlands.”