Calls for fostering investment rejected by council bosses

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Budget proposals aiming to pump £1 million into the recruitment and retention of foster carers in Leeds were rejected by Leeds City Council chiefs yesterday.

Wetherby ward councillor Alan Lamb (Cons, Wetherby) had urged the use of £1 million from the council’s general reserves to fund an ‘invest to save’ programme aimed at increasing the number of foster carers in the city.

The programme would have gone “further and faster” than existing schemes by funding an enhanced marketing campaign to recruit, train and keep foster carers on the council’s books and reducing the numbers of foster carers leaving for roles in the private sector.

In a statement before the council’s full budget meeting yesterday, Coun Alan Lamb said: “Foster carers are some of the unsung heroes of our city.

“They do a phenomenal job working with often vulnerable young people taken into care by the authority.

“Unfortunately, we just don’t have enough of them meaning we often have to rely on expensive external placements.

“Every extra foster carer the city recruits generates a saving of up to £100,000 as external placements can cost up to £5000 per week per child.

Coun Lamb added that he supported the work the council are doing to reduce the number of looked after children but think’s the council could go “further and faster.”

He said: “In most cases it is in the best interests of the child to be in a loving foster family.

“There are also a number of savings that can be made by placing the child with a Leeds City Council foster carer rather than on the expensive external alternatives.”At least 800 new foster families are needed in the Yorkshire region during 2013 to look after children in care, according to figures from the Fostering Network published.