Foster Carers (Remuneration)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 7th June 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party 11:40 am, 7th June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive whether the remuneration of foster carers will be included in its fostering strategy. (S3O-167)

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Scottish National Party

A fostering and kinship care strategy will be published later in 2007 and a range of measures to support children in foster care and their carers will be addressed. Those will include remuneration.

Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

I refer the minister to motion S3M-80 in my name, which addresses the fact that 37 per cent of foster carers receive no remuneration and that two thirds of them receive less than the minimum wage. I advise him that, although full-time foster carers receive a lump sum of up to £500 for replacement of appliances, such as washing machines, as a result of wear and tear, respite carers receive nothing. Will he consider introducing a sliding scale of payment, so that respite carers, who provide vital support to full-time foster carers, are not disadvantaged?

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Scottish National Party

Christine Grahame is right to identify an anomaly affecting respite carers in the current allowances scheme for carers. That example highlights the general lack of a level playing field for carers in respect of the support that they are currently able to access from local authorities. Respite carers, who look after children who need to live apart from their birth families temporarily, deserve to be supported properly. I assure the member that the strategy that I will bring forward later this year will address the issues of allowances and other support for all carers, whatever their official designation.

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

I do not need to ask my question because, happily, the minister has already answered it.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Feel free not to ask it.

Photo of Rhoda Grant Rhoda Grant Labour

Because people who foster their grandchildren, often in difficult circumstances, are classed as kinship carers, rather than foster carers, many of them receive little or no support, which leads to hardship. What steps will the Executive take to ensure that local authorities provide grandparents with the same level of support that they provide to other foster carers?

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Scottish National Party

We fully intend that the national fostering and kinship strategy will live up to its name in a meaningful way. I am examining ways of developing support for kinship carers, including grandparents. There are two fundamental problems that we need to address in the fostering strategy. First, as more and more children come into the system for care and protection, demand is running ahead of supply. We need to attack that problem both by increasing the number of carers and by developing early interventions to reduce the number of children entering the system. Secondly, we must improve the quality of provision for looked-after children, whose outcomes remain poor: we can and must do better. Training for carers will be a key aspect of the strategy.