Private fostering agencies are offering foster carers large sums of money to leave councils and work for them, the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has said.
The ADCS said private agencies are recruiting carers with sums as large as £3,000.
Dave Hill told the BBC: “Local authorities are very committed to recruiting, training and supporting foster carers and that costs a lot of money.
“Then these agencies come along with a golden hello, they take our foster carers and we're massively out of pocket.”
He added that this is “immoral and wrong” and believes the practice should be stopped with “immediate effect”.
Foster carers are also facing increasingly straitened financial circumstances. A recent survey from The Fostering Network found that 70% said council funding cuts had had an effect on their fees.
The ADCS also said that if a foster carer changes employers, the council may end up having to pay more to private agencies in order to ensure the placement continues.
It said one county council in south-east England had to pay £512 a week for in-house foster care for each child, which rose to £934 for a private agency. A unitary authority in the west Midlands paid £331 for in-house provision and £754 for private provision.
Edward Timpson, the minister for children and families, said: “As someone whose own family fostered for many years, I greatly value the vital contribution that foster carers make to children's lives and am committed to ensuring they receive the support they need.”
He said the government is carrying out “a national stocktake of fostering”, including fostering agencies, as part of a review of children’s residential services by Sir Martin Narey, the CEO of Barnardo’s.
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