Santa came early for struggling Kinship Carer
A London aunt is celebrating Christmas early! After a legal fight with her local authority for financial support, she’s been paid over £90,000 in back pay and a yearly increased fostering allowance of over £20,000 to care for two children.
Mrs D has been caring for her niece and nephew since 2013. She was asked by the Local Authority if she would be able to look after them due to their parents being unable to do so.
Commenting on how the children came to live with her, Mrs D said ” I was told that if I could not care for them, they would end up in foster care. I wasn’t going to see them leave the family – I agreed to take them on and to be trained as a foster carer. I was assessed and trained as a foster carer. I began to receive the basic fostering allowance for both children.
Helen Jarvis specialist Kinship Care lawyer at Ridley & Hall said ” It became apparent over the years that Mrs D’s nephew in particular had issues from being neglected within his birth family. His behaviour was particularly challenging. He soon began to get into trouble with the police and was expelled from school. This had a huge impact on the family.”
She went on “Mrs D approached Ridley & Hall after seeing an article about how related foster carers are entitled to the same allowances as mainstream foster carers. She looked at the Council’s website and found that foster carers in Hammersmith and Fulham received not only the basic fostering allowance for the children they cared for but also an additional fee element per week per child. She asked the Local Authority why she was not getting these additional allowances and was told that she was not entitled because she was related to the children.
I have heard the same story numerous times. Family and friends carers are often told that they are not entitled to the same allowances as stranger foster carers and this is just not true. This is quite simply a case of the Council refusing to fulfil their statutory obligations. Hammersmith and Fulham knew that since a judgement in 2013, kinship foster carers cannot be discriminated against. If they have been approved as foster carers, they should be paid as foster carers.
I wrote to the Council to request that they pay my client any additional fee element available to foster carers and backdate this to when the children were placed in her care in 2013.
After long delays, the Council confirmed that my client should have been receiving an additional £237 per week per child since 2013.It was agreed that my client was entitled to receive a back dated payment of £90,000. She will now get an extra £474 each week. The impact that this will have on the family is huge”
Mrs D commented “This is the best Christmas present I have ever received. I cannot believe that Local Authorities are able to get away with this – they knew that I should have been paid the extra money but never told me. If I had not seen the article from Ridley & Hall, I would never have known that I was entitled to any additional monies. I am a single carer surviving on benefits. My life was turned upside down when I agreed to care for my niece and nephew. I never expected having to be a “mum” again! This extra weekly money helps me to feed and clothe them and enables me to afford to care for them. They deserve to experience proper family life after their chaotic start they had.
I am just like every other foster carer. I attend the same training courses and undergo the same rigorous monitoring as any other foster carer so why shouldn’t I be entitled to the same payments as them?
The back dated monies will certainly take the strain off this Christmas and now that the financial strain has been eased I can now focus on getting the correct support for my nephew.
Fingers crossed we seem to be getting somewhere. I am so grateful to Helen Jarvis for everything that she has done for me and the children”.
Helen Jarvis commented “Mrs D was let down by Hammersmith and Fulham. I’m sure she isn’t alone. Ridley & Hall can advise anyone who considers that they may be missing out on support that they are entitled to. It’s vital carers get in contact with our specialist team to make sure they are getting the support they need and are entitled to.”