News by Month
EFCA Newsletter - July 2022
Here is your July 2022 Newsletter from the EFCA
Hello everyone in beautiful Fostering Land and what glorious weather we have been having. I hope this Newsletter finds you well. A few things have been going on in Essex including a meeting with John Edgar – the new head of Virtual School. Discussions about Savings and Fees. What our trustee Sue Bell has been up to and of course our meetings with Essex + Fostering Board and the burning question of why some people seem to get the higher fee and others not...
In this month's issue:
(Scroll as you read or click a headline to jump straight to the article)
- Savings - Its not easy
- Full Inclusion - should be as standard, not an issue
- Higher Payment Criteria
- A virtual event with the Virtual School head
- Help us to help you - Raising Funds
This is everyone's news. Let's get started
I met recently with Lynne Wilkinson to discuss the issues of Children’s Savings as there has been/continues to be some confusion on what we need to do as Foster Carers
When a child comes into care, we as Foster Carers must put savings away for the child/children, the minimum is currently £6 per week. This is then given to the child/children when they reached their 18th Birthday so that they have some financial stability.
One of the problems that has always been out there, is how do we save for the child in the first year of care. We have had numerous Foster Carers saying that they have handed a cheque/cash to mum/parents (as the child has returned to the family home) and often this money has not been used for the child, an ISA has been opened, cash is saved and handed over when the child moves or carers save the money in their own bank accounts. If the child has subsequently come back into care, then the savings have started again. So, although, this is not the case in every instance, definitely worth talking about so we can understand what we need to do to make sure that the child/children receive savings as this money is for the child.
Guidance has been written on what we as carers need to do, here is a link to the policy in the Important Documents section of the ECC Foster Carer Resource Hub https://www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/media/1715/savings_policy_for_children_in_care.pdf.
For children and young people looked after for less than 12 months:
- The carer makes a record of the savings accrued or spent and is held by the carer.
For children and young people looked after for more than 12 months:
- Business Support to initiate a referral to The Share Foundation (TSF) so that a Junior ISA (JISA) is set up if there is not an existing Child Trust Fund (CTF).
- Business Support to liaise with TSF regarding which CTFs they will locate and manage versus which have PR in place for parental management.
- Carer/provider is advised of the details of the JISA or TSF managed CTF and makes arrangements for any savings accrued in 12 months to be paid into the account and ongoing savings paid into the account on a regular basis.
For children and young people who have moved/are moving placements:
- Social Worker and IRO to establish (with the carer) the amount of savings held and the actions undertaken i.e. have deposits been made into the JISA/CTF.
- Providers to arrange for any outstanding monies to be paid.
Many years ago, Essex had an ethos of being fully inclusive and when things like Danbury Manor (which I’m sure you have heard of) were running events these were open to all Children, including Sons and Daughters. A few years ago, even though Fostered Children are brought up in households with ‘Sons and Daughters’ it became a safeguarding issue that they went, and things changed.
Sue Bell, who happens to be a Trustee to the EFCA, took it upon herself with a few colleagues to set up a fund to run events that once again fully include as much as possible all the fostering households. We all know how successful the Colchester Swimming Pool and beach events are!
Sue runs these events not as part of the EFCA. She raises the funds independently and uses these to pay for the future events - We help support her by placing information in our Newsletters and if in the future when the funds might not be there, we will be there to help, but for the time being we need ot make it clear that this is not related to EFCA and EFCA funds are not involved.
We have asked Essex many times if Sons and Daughter could be included in events but it still remains ‘a Safeguarding issue’. Hopefully we'll one day manage to change that!
The EFCA have been approached by a number of Carers with regards to the Higher Payment criteria and although they feel a child is meeting the Guidance that sets out what meets this, they are still being refused. We met with the Fostering Board on the 15th June and had an interesting response. Michelle Hayden-Pepper indicated that not all Higher Criteria applications went to panel and that this should be considered going forward. They are also going to ask Panel to feedback as to why the Higher Payment would not be considered so that you can accept the reason or appeal. This is not a total answer as we know that a number of carers still don’t understand why they have not received the higher payment even though their looked after child meets all criteria (and sometimes more). We will have to wait until the next Fostering Board to see if we are any further forward and to make sure that a process is agreed and followed. Sorry folks we hoped to have a more positive outcome.
John Edgar joined some Foster Carers from our Facebook page to announce some big changes to PEPs and other things in the pipeline. About 20 carers attended and it was a very interesting conversation with questions at the end.
PEPs are changing – we all know how unaccountable schools were sometimes and from September onwards Schools will have to show that the money they receive is spent on the child it is meant for. PEPs will now take place termly and Foster Carers will need to be involved not just the CSW.
We also spoke about deferring a child so that they do not attend the school in the year group that is correct for their age. Although research suggests that in the long term this is not a good idea, it has happened in the past and if you believe that it is in the best interests of the child and have evidence for this then please contact the Virtual school, one of the criteria is if you are looking after an Asylum Seeker or other young person for whom English is not their first language. The Virtual school have an agreement with Harlow College to help these young people. Over the years I have always sent my younger Asylum Seekers to Hockerill School in Bishop’s Stortford as it caters very well for foreign students.
The Government has given additional funding for Covid catch up, to provide up to 15 hours of individual tuition. So, if you wish to help your child with additional lessons, please remind their school that this is available.
We are going to set up another Question and Answers session for September 9th September 10am to 11.30am as the first one was so successful.
Teams link for the 9th September meeting: https://teams.live.com/meet/9456766855845
Here are this month's fundraising activities
- Anyone completing an EFCA supporting Foster Carers Questionnaire will be entered into the Tiptree Hamper Prize draw in September.
- Good Luck Thèo and Class : Support Thèo : https://gofund.me/7c25b4c7
- Mercury Theatre Voucher Raffle : https://pay.sumup.io/b2c/Q2P6V7OJ
- Make up
- Essex Lottery : https://www.essexlottery.co.uk/support/essex-foster-carers-association
- Amazon Smile : https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1120106-0
- Aaron - Cycling : gofund.me/40f0811b
- Adventure Island tickets : Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Good Luck Thèo and Class: https://gofund.me/7c25b4c7
To join the lottery and support us use this link: https://www.essexlottery.co.uk/support/essex-foster-carers-association and then click on "Buy Tickets".
To set yourself up to use Amazon Smile to support EFCA follow this link: https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1120106-0
Outreach Worker in North Quadrant He is still raising money for his bike ride of 66km on 9th July, so far he has raised an amazing £900, but would like to reach £1000! You can sponsor him: https://gofund.me/40f0811b
Adventure Island Tickets £16 each
Sealife Southend tickets £7 each
Adventure Golf tickets £5 Each (for two rounds)
To get your tickets please contact email@example.com
To get your tickets please contact firstname.lastname@example.org