When you realise Fostering isn't worth the trouble.

The Housing Dept. asked to see proof of Fostering earnings from 2009 so I wrote and told them they were wrong to request it or add the income to their calculations. Fostering earnings fall below tax thresholds and are zero in calculations because the Child-allowance part is used to support another persons child and is spent according to guidelines set-out by our Local Authority. We can't spend it on ourselves. She however wanted to include the money we're told to call “zero earnings” in her calculations (contrary to her own guidelines and government legislation). A week later we received her reply. Although she'd asked for proof of earnings she meant proof of Fostering from 2009.... How and Why?... I wrote back and told the lady I have a contract from 2006 but didn't get any other documents of proof until 2014 unless she'd like to look back on her own records.

All Foster Carers are Self Employed. Actually they are not employed but don't need to register for self-employment.

She must suspect all previous data is wrong or suspect we've committed fraud for 8 years. What good it would do her I'm not sure but it's how we've been treated each time we submit tax and housing documents. 8 years of being treated as a scrounger, fraudster or liar. Each time we get into debt, face eviction and then they get it right.. Maybe she's too busy playing on her phone to be properly bothered with the work load (It's amazing how many people I've seen recently sat behind monitors using mobile phones).

My Local Fostering Authority didn't start giving us Annual Contracts to sign until this year. The only proof we normally have to show anyone is Housing and Inland Revenue letters.

I asked if she could please hurry up the situation so that we could pay what I owe and relax.

 

Today (New Years Eve) we got the reply. 4 Months after telling them of the change of circumstances.. £84 per week accumulated rent arrears.... for 4 months waiting...

 

Because I've voluntarily taken this job paying £156 per week (before any deductions) I will lose £100 per week in rent and Council Tax (plus the arrears). BUT I will receive £140 child tax and working tax Credits.

So I'll give back the credits to pay the Rent, Council tax and rent-arrears.

 

The sad part isn't the expensive musical-chairs played with Tax-Payers money it's that I would be better off not working. I was a fool to think of giving more back. I didn't need to work and now I'm in serious debt at a time I can least afford to pay it (because my Local Authority take tooo long with almost everything they do. That's if they reply)..

I was told of the Local Authority job vacancy and told it was 25 hours per week (turned out to be 34 because it is humanly impossible to do the job in 25 hours but by then I was doing the job and had declared the change of circumstances but it took 3 months for my pay slip to get sorted out and for the pay to get paid properly).

I took the job because my friend told me about it. His disabled Son is our Godson and he's always been taken to School by Local Authority Transport. I wanted to help get Children like him to School safely and home again in the afternoon (two trips each day). Now though our household income has significantly lowered and we owe more than £1000. I feel as though I'm doing something wrong and feel we've been ignored tricked and deceived by two sections of my own Local Authority. The kids are amazing though. When we were all giving money to Children in need, they were giving too. I was giving for them and they were thinking of others.

 

To work for less makes you understand why people don't want to work.

 

I'm still in receipt of a retainer for an empty Foster room so I can't complain but why am I getting a retainer for 8 months? It seems pointless. If I was actually Fostering instead of keeping an empty room open it would feel worthwhile. After our recent successful Annual Inspection we feel our experience and knowledge of the subject is being thrown away. Top marks from BAAF but a genuine feeling that our Local Authority are trying to create bed shortages by making existing Foster Carers leave Fostering. There are lots of us with no placements and lots of us with contracts that are better than those being offered to new Foster Carers. It could be our holiday entitlement that is causing us to be pushed out (I've only taken 8 weeks respite holiday in 8 years but our entitlement is 4 weeks annually. New Foster Carers get two weeks holiday cover).

 

My low pay is less than we are paid to Foster. We qualify for more help when we both Foster with no additional income... Paid,- taxable work equals worse off and struggling whereas 2 people doing one tax exempt job equals better off?! My Wife could take a part time job and we would have a spare room for family, visitors, junk etc.. No Compulsory Training, Social Services, Reviews, risk of Allegations, Annual home Inspections or damage to property by unhappy little people. As an afterthought our compulsory Home contents Insurance wouldn't show risk (we could even cancel it if we wanted to). Our holidays wouldn't need respite carers (Respite carers are in such short supply). And we certainly wouldn't cancel anymore holidays after Social Services did nothing about a respite request made a year in advance (as happened)...

 

In April 2015 our retainer will stop because it lasts a year. Then we won't be Fostering for our Local Authority because we won't be able to afford for my Wife to sit in mothballs waiting to be one of the desperately needed Foster Carers.

 

Do something amazing. Leave an empty room for those desperately needed Foster Carers..

 

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4 Comments

FM
Former Member 5 Years Ago
Such a shame and such a waste of resource. Have you thought of transferring to a different authority/agency? I suspect you just don't have the energy, but you might find a different authority/agency give you the feedback and validation that you should be getting and you might even get a child....
Andy C 5 Years Ago - Edited
Yes we've thought about working for an Agency but I'm the only driver. I used to make our car available for Fostering but after eight years found it wasn't worth it after we decided to offer only one room to one child after her sibling was moved (effectively halving our income so that one child could settle). We were supposed to let her go too so that we could still be available to take 2 but our home was hers and we'd made a promise. 6 months before the separation the two children came to live with us . It later transpired they shouldn't have been placed together and certainly shouldn't have been approved to share a bedroom (a large room). One thing led to another and they were separated after we pushed as hard as we could with support from a paediatrician (with no support from the child's Social Worker/Manager). It was the paediatricians report that finally got some help and protection for the more vulnerable child. Nobody was thinking about her needs. Only the needs of the loudest and most disruptive child... When they were separated we put all our efforts into making a home for the remaining child. She was told we were her “Forever Family” by her Social Worker and was officially told she would remain with us until she was adult. We worked hard to reduce the affects of abuse. Amongst the usual abuses of neglect, sexual and isolation she was blamed and punished continuously. Her older Sibling was the favoured one and was able to punish her younger sister with the blessing of abusive Adults. The older Sibling was able to avoid punishment by blaming her younger sibling at every opportunity (causing her to be excluded and made to face the wall or made to stand in issolation). Often making something bad happen so that she could be seen to act as a helper (gaining power and favour). Soon we were told about the 16 week “Keep” training course which we both wish we'd refused to go on... We had to withdraw our cooperation when we were told to isolate our Foster Child when she wasn't doing as she is told. We were told to use “time-out” as punishment. We refused based on her abuse experiences. Abuse that wasn't known to the course trainers. KEEP training wasn't concerned with the child. It was about the Carer (Keep is filmed openly using a web-camera with the promise that filming was for research and viewed by only American training developers... A lie). We were told to use “star chart reward cards” to make her comply but we argued against it as it would force a comparison between our own child who didn't experience behaviour or learning difficulties associated with delayed development and sexual abuse. This KEEP system would reward one child and punish another (backed up by respected researchers who have studied it's affects)... When we voiced our concerns about “Keep” we found ourselves up against a disgruntled Therapeutic-Worker who didn't take kindly to our disruptive independent thought. Our child-centredness and disaproval was reported as aggressive and showed unwillingness to work with “professionals” (apparently). We went back to panel but Panel agreed with us and asked us to carry on the good work and move on. To forget about it. Then the Child we Fostered got a new Social Worker and she announced that an Aunty was prepared to come forward for cash (support). And in May 2014 our child moved to live with her Aunty. We've heard it's not been easy. Now we're sat waiting to take a child to school and organise day trips, meals etc when there is no Foster Child. Paid to keep a room empty seems wrong. So I took the job... But I'm the only driver in my house so Private Fostering isn't an option unless I leave my new job. We do intend to keep Fostering (unless we get beyond April with no placement. By then we will have received £11440 for doing nothing). I will continue to take severely disabled children to School even if it makes no profit. The kids are amazing. I couldn't let them down... It just seems strange to push money around in circles when it's already sat in my bank. Silly that I take two thirds of my pay to give to my Local Authority but they deposit it back plus £40 with working tax benefits on another day. Worse still is leaving poor families waiting for four months before making a decision on their entitlement and delaying the decision by passing the work around with stupid questions to slow down the workload.. Now that I'm in unnecessary debt I can see how easy it is to sink below the water-level through no fault of your own.. We got top marks this December in our annual inspection (by BAAF). No problems whatsoever. So when we get the chance we'll continue to help children who need a Family home. But couldn't it all be so much simpler?
Andy C 5 Years ago in reply to Andy C . - Edited
In a short update (short??!). I went onto the Governments own benefit calculator to research why it's taken 4 months. I entered my information correctly into all the required boxes and it came up with a very different decision than the one handed to us by the professionals. It made me look again at the long paper decision. To read and understand these documents takes a degree in sub-nucleonic-particle-physics... After a while I noticed that it had taken four months to calculate but the data used was wrong even though the information supplied by me was correct. The data supplied to the Benefits clever person was correct but she managed to add over £100 to my weekly pay (over £400 a month that I don't get). So it's still wrong. It took me twenty minutes to calculate my entitlement to get a better answer using correct information and 4 months to get an incorrect decision that has left me wondering if I should leave my job. I wonder if it will take another 4 months to get a repeat of this nonsense. Oh and in addition. We've just learned that our Placement Desk has changed it's phone number. So the number we've been ringing and ringing is wrong. Even our own "department" were unaware. Foster Children come from placement desk and they're in hiding it seems. They're probably sat twiddling their thumbs wondering where all the Foster Carers have gone.. Is it just my Local Authority????
FM
Former Member 5 Years ago in reply to Andy C .
It all sounds like a nightmare... ours are pretty good at keeping us informed of changes. Its annoying when you can't get hold of people. I hope things have improved for you.