New foster care loan scheme to improve children’s lives
Central Bedfordshire Council‘s Executive has approved a new loan scheme to enable foster carers and adopters to adapt their homes and increase their capacity to look after vulnerable children and improve their lives.
There is a particular aim to ensure that larger sibling groups are kept together. It is expected that this scheme will reduce the volume and cost of children being placed into expensive independent fostering agencies (IFAs), due to a lack of available rooms with in-house Council carers.
Cllr Steve Dixon, executive member for Families, Education and Children, said:
“Looking after some of the most vulnerable children in our community, is simply one of the most important things we do as a council, so we have really tried to think outside the box to increase our capacity to do this.
“Our wonderful foster carers deserve the help this scheme can provide and it can also act as further incentive for new carers to choose to Central Bedfordshire Council.”
Scheme could be increased if it is successful
There will be an initial tranche of £100,000 available for carers to borrow small, interest free amounts to make improvements, such as dividing an existing room or converting a loft space. This fund could be increased in the future if the scheme proves successful.
The loans will be repayable through a deduction from the foster carer fees paid by the authority to the carer, for a period of up to five years.
This is separate to the fostering allowance, which pays for the cost of caring for the child and will not be affected.
Cllr Steve Dixon said:
“While this scheme will also significantly cut the average cost of placing a child with agencies, that are almost twice as expensive, the most important outcome is it will allow us to improve the lives of vulnerable children.
“This is especially the case with brothers and sisters because the last thing we want to do is split them up due to a lack of suitable rooms. In that regard, we hope this will be a game-changer to give them a head-start if life.”