COUNCILLORS have voted to raise fostering allowances at a meeting of Devon County Council (DCC).

For children who are unable to live with their birth family, staying with a local foster carer is the best alternative as it enables them to grow up in a family environment, close to relatives, friends, their school, and health services that know them.

DCC are seeing a high number of children in care, but too few people wanting to become foster carers.

But councillors have this week agreed to raise foster carers’ allowances in line with the Department for Education’s National Minimum Rates, as well as fee payments.

Allowances are paid to help cover the cost of caring for a child, and fee payments are made on top of allowances to recognise a foster carer’s skills and experience.

Councillors agreed that foster carers for the council will receive an increase of over six per cent in their allowances, backdated to April 2023.

In addition, all foster carers who work with the council will receive an almost six per cent increase in their fees, also backdated to April 2023.

Councillors also agreed further increases from 1 April 2024, increasing the standard fostering allowances by at least three per cent.

Fees for all the council’s foster carers will rise by a further three per-cent.

The decision means that the amount that DCC pays its foster carers is more competitive, making it more financially viable for people to consider fostering directly with them.

Attracting a wider pool of potential carers will give the council more opportunity to match children’s needs with the most suitable foster families, leading to more stable, long-lasting placements.

The increase also reflects the rising costs of living and aims to ensure that DCC’s foster carers are well supported with the resources they need to provide the exceptional levels of care expected.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member with responsibility for children’s services, said: ‘I want to personally thank all of our foster carers for all that they do.

‘Our foster carers open their hearts and homes to children in Devon who need them most, providing stability, care, and a nurturing environment so that they can thrive.

‘We want to increase our number of foster carers and are working hard to increase the support that they receive to do this essential work with our children and young people.

‘We are committed to providing the best possible care for children in our community and ensuring that our amazing foster carers feel valued, and support is a crucial part of this.

‘We understand the significant commitment it requires to provide the high-quality care we expect from our foster families, and we want to ensure our rates reflect the value we place on their dedication.

‘The proposed changes to the payments we make to foster carers to cover the cost of caring for a child and to attend training and support is the first step towards simplifying the overall payments scheme.

‘By investing in our foster carers, we are ultimately investing in the future of these vulnerable children.’