In response to a BBC article about foster carers being offered cash incentives to move between fostering providers, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: 'The Fostering Network has transfer protocols which guide the way in which fostering services should manage the movement of foster carers between fostering services, and which have support from across the fostering sector.
‘In line with those transfer protocols, we believe that foster carers have the same right to freedom of movement between fostering services as any other professional within the childcare sector. However, the protocols make clear that the welfare of children should always be the determining factor governing freedom of movement, and that fostering providers should not intentionally entice or persuade foster carers to transfer to a new service in an unethical manner or in a way that impacts on placement stability for a child.
‘Foster carers will move between fostering providers for a number of varied and complex reasons, including how well supported they are, the training they will receive, how well they are valued as professionals, the availability of placements and what the level of remuneration is. We know from our surveys of foster carers and the values work that we have undertaken that financial motivation is low on the list for most foster carers.
'We do not believe, and we have no evidence to suggest, that golden hellos will be a significant incentive for many foster carers. Indeed, they would prefer to be well supported, valued and remunerated throughout their fostering career than to receive a financial incentive. All the other criteria laid out within the procotols - for example, fostering services should not approach individual foster carers with a view to recruiting them without the knowledge of their current fostering service – must also always be followed.
‘Our transfer protocols also state that providers should not target their resources to attract existing foster carers to move to a different service since this does not expand the availability of placements. Given there is a need for more foster carers across the UK, particularly those with the skills and experience to care for teenagers, sibling groups and children with disabilities, we would urge all fostering services to identify the need in their area and seek to recruit new foster carers to meet that need rather than recruit carers from other providers.
‘In all this, we must remember that the primary consideration in all transfers must not be financial, but rather that “the welfare of the child is paramount” as enshrined in the Children Act 1989. The tens of thousands of fostered children deserve nothing less.’