St Christopher’s has joined with The Fostering Network and other fostering agencies to ask the government to change their new childcare policy, which excludes foster carers from accessing up to 30 hours a week of free childcare.
As part of this Chief Executive Ron Giddens attended a roundtable event at the House of Commons chaired by Tracy Brabin MP, the Shadow Minister for Early Years. The event was attended by foster carers and representatives of the voluntary childcare sector and focused on how the policy could be amended to be more inclusive of fostering households.
There was an overwhelming consensus that the decision to exclude foster carers from the additional free childcare for three to four year olds is discriminatory and unjustified.
All children in England are eligible for 570 free hours of childcare per year once they are three years old. This is often broken down into 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year. Some people are eligible for up to 30 hours a week free childcare, or 1140 hours per year. The number of hours you qualify for is dependent on your earnings and work status.
However, foster carers are excluded from accessing the additional free hours, regardless of their income.
Earlier in November St Christopher’s signed a letter from The Fostering Network to national newspapers explaining to the government why this is unfair. The letter explains: “Children aged three and four across England are now entitled to an extra 15 hours of free childcare each week, with the exception of fostered children who have been explicitly and inexplicably excluded. We are calling on the children’s minister, Robert Goodwill, to urge him to reverse this discriminatory decision with immediate effect. Fostered children must have access to the same opportunities as other children.”
Ron said: “We immensely value the contributions that foster carers make and know that many children’s lives would not be the same without their carers’ love and support.
“St Christopher’s continues to campaign and pressure to get this change so that foster carers all over England can have the same support as other parents and caregivers.”
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