Report from Cabinet Member for Children and Young People.
Councillor Smith, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee introduced the Foster Carers Update report and thanked members of the Committee for highlighting this matter. Councillor Smith advised the foster carers association have been involved in this to make sure the offer is correct. The report will be going to Cabinet on the 15th March 2023 and then out to recruitment.
Councillor Lancaster advised of an issue sharing the promoted Facebook posts on recruitment of Foster Carers. Jeanette Richards, Executive Director Children and Young People noted this and will see if this can be amended.
Councillor Frith asked if are on target to increase the number of Bury approved Fostering households by at least 20 in 2023/2024. Jeanette Richards advised she will bring back to the committee where we are in relation to this target.
Councillor Berry sought some assurances on the payments to foster carers regarding clothing, comparison to the private sector and the correlation between the payments and the increase in foster carers. In response Jeanette Richards, Executive Director advised the clothing allowance is a set allowance for children who do not have basic clothing expected of a child that age. The payments to foster carers has been mapped against the market and we find ourselves in a favourable and competitive position such as proposing council tax relief.
Councillor Pilkington also asked about the mockingbird model which is hoped to be approved in March 2023. Jeanette Richards did advise there would be a requirement to bring in a manager before the foster carers are recruited but the experienced foster carers are interested in the offer.
Councillor Whitby thanked officers the report and the work that has taken place. Assurances were sought regarding the absence of a documented uplift in maintenance fees for 5–10-year-olds and were informed this is an error and will be circulated after the meeting. In addition, Councillor Whitby questioned about placements and members were assured that sometimes it is more suitable for children to be placed under other areas and local authorities.
Councillor Rydeheard asked what other support foster carers would appreciate along side the financial offer. Councillor Smith, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People assured members that it is viewed as a profession and money matters. In addition, support, networking, training, and development, short breaks, transition fees and retainer fees were important to the offer.
Councillor Boles questioned about the reports reference to commissioning a graphic designer. Jeanette Richards, Executive Director Children and Young People advised that £10,000 has been awarded from Greater Manchester for our publicity campaign and this will be funded from that pot of money.
Councillor FitzGerald, Chair of Health Scrutiny asked for a view on how the nonfinancial support to foster carers supports their physical and mental health. Jeanette Richards, Executive Director advised members that this is in feedback with foster carers who have described the demand of the task. The role of the supervising social workers is to develop relationships with the foster carers and to reach out if they need support.
In summary Councillor Boles, Chair of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee said how Foster Carers had been a key priority of the Committee and it has been powerful to have this as a regular item at the Committee.