TACT welcomes today’s BBC report about profit making fostering agencies offering cash incentives to recruit foster carers working for English local authorities – and then charging more for the service.
TACT CEO Andy Elvin says: “TACT condemns financial incentives and profiteering by commercial foster care agencies. Their profits are excessive and this is money coming directly from cash strapped local authority children’s budgets that could be spent on looked after children.”
The practice of using financial inducements, or golden hellos as the BBC describes them, to get foster carers to switch agencies, is potentially harmful to children in foster care. TACT’s experience is that moving agencies can be disruptive to carers when the new agency does not turn out to be all it was promised to be.
On the matter of profiteering from fostering, Research from Corporate Watch claims that in 2014/15, eight commercial fostering agencies made £41 million in profit between them from providing foster placements to local authorities.
This is all legal, and the commercial agencies say that if children get good foster placements and achieve good outcomes, what is the problem? This is fine to a point, but local authorities, charities such as TACT and not for profit fostering agencies are also achieving great outcomes for children without taking out profit.
Andy Elvin says: “We need to decide if we, as a sector and a society, are content to allow venture capital to profit from the care of vulnerable children. The Government is happy to exclude the private sector from the child protection system so why not the care system? There seems no logic to this demarcation.”
Watch Andy Elvin's BBC interview here
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