BBC News recently reported the findings of a local government watchdog, which has revealed that many foster carers are ‘losing out’ by being refused the necessary financial support to provide children with proper care.
Often children whose parents are unable to care for them are cared for by family or friends, either placed there by the Local Authority or via informal arrangements. BBC News reported an estimate of 145,000 children to be cared for on a full time basis by family and friends through informal arrangements, highlighting the large number of those affected.
Such family members and friends caring for a child may be entitled to support from the Local Authority. If they are entitled to support, whether financial or otherwise, the Local Authority has a statutory duty to provide that support.
The Local Government Ombudsman, the body which investigates complaints about Local Authorities and other public bodies, has reported a 53% rise in complaints received about children’s services – from 980 to just less than 1500.
The watchdog report was of such a complaint made by a carer in Liverpool, which resulted in back-dating financial payments to 340 carers. (See also 'Foster carers and special guardians missed out on entitlements'.)
Jane Martin from the Local Government Ombudsman, said that children and their families, ‘some of whom are very vulnerable and at risk, are being treated unfairly’.
She went on to say:‘I hope this report will assist councils in meeting their statutory obligations, and that it helps to initiate a cultural shift to recognise the efforts of all foster carers’.
David Simmonds, from the Local Government Association also expressed concern, stating: ‘supporting children at difficult times in their lives is one of the most important things councils do, and foster care arrangements can help turn around a child’s life and help them get back on track.’
Should you feel that you are entitled to support from the Local Authority, or that you have been wrongly denied support or wish to make a formal complaint, we have a specialist Community Care Team within our Civil Liberties Unit who are able to assist.
Our Public Law Team has also recently assisted clients who have been disadvantaged by agreeing to be Special Guardians at the suggestion of Local authorities, but have then failed to be paid the correct level of allowance.
If you feel that you require our advice and assistance please contact 0333 344 4772.
By Sophie Maloney, human rights law & civil libertiesteam