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7.23 Policy for Foster Carers Annual Leave

RELATED INFORMATION

Click here for the Annual Leave Form

This chapter was added to the manual in February 2018.


Contents

  1. Annual Leave
  2. Respite Care Payments
  3. Relief Carer Payments
  4. Unpaid Leave


1. Annual Leave

Foster Carers of children in a full-time placement are entitled to 14 night’s paid annual leave per year for the number of children that they are registered/caring for. (From 1st April to 31st March). Please note that annual leave is only accrued when a child is in placement, therefore if a child is in placement for part of the year it is taken (or paid) pro rata. Foster Carers are supported in caring for children through either an approved relief carer, caring for the child in their usual home environment or matched to a respite foster carer. Carers should give as much notice as possible, for any leave request that will involve children going out of their home environment, to enable time for preparing them and matching to an alternative foster carer. To avoid any unnecessary stress to the child, the preference is for them to be cared for by a named relief carer, to maintain the child’s care in their usual home environment.

When a foster carer takes annual leave as a paid break, they will be paid the professional reward element and the skills payment only. The maintenance, disability enhancement and any single placement supplement would go with the child; being paid to the respite carer. This applies to whether a foster carer takes the full two weeks as a block or as several shorter periods throughout the year. Foster carers must request annual leave using the foster carers annual leave form via their allocated Fostering Social Worker. (Or fostering duty social worker in an emergency)

In exceptional circumstances, foster carers can take additional annual leave above the 14 nights but this will be unpaid and must be agreed by the Fostering Social Worker.

Foster carers who decide not to take their annual leave as a paid break can claim the 14 nights (pro rata) as a one off payment, to use towards the cost of a family holiday for all the children. This is to recognise the additional costs of taking children on holiday during school breaks, as Children in Care cannot be taken out of education in term time for the purpose of a family holiday. Whilst this can be claimed at any point during the financial year, all claims must be made by 1st March to ensure they are completed before the 31st March to avoid going into a new financial year. Where a foster carer has a planned holiday with the children, they should advise their Fostering Social Worker of this during supervision and request their one off payment. If claiming the maximum 14 nights this will mean no further claim for annual leave can be made for the remainder of the financial year. It is the foster carer’s responsibility to claim the payment and no payments will be authorised for missed or historic periods of time/previous years.


2. Respite Care

Additional Respite Care

In exceptional circumstances, additional support to foster carers can be agreed in the provision of respite care as part of the Care Plan and placement plan arrangements for a specific child. This will require presentation to the access to resources panel for funding to be agreed on a case by case basis and does not affect the 14 night entitlement to annual leave. This maybe agreed for a variety of reasons, for example:

  • To improve placement stability in linking a child/young person to a fostering hub family who can provide respite care support;
  • For foster carers of children with severe disabilities and/or complex health needs to enable them to have a break from the physical demands of the caring role (especially where children require night time care);
  • Children/young people who have complex and challenging behaviour where there is a significant impact upon foster carers birth children, for example restricting them doing normal family activities;
  • Where a foster carer has a family emergency, illness or crisis that’s involves them being away from the fostering household. Discretion should be given as to whether the foster carer is asked to use annual leave, or whether additional respite care is funded to support the child’s placement, dependent on the circumstances of the request;

Payments for Respite Care

For respite stays of between one and four nights both carers will receive the professional reward element and maintenance payment. Any additional payments will continue to the main carer e.g. Disability enhancements, skills payment, single supplement. For any respite stays of five nights or more the main carer will receive the professional element only and the maintenance will stop. The maximum number of nights approved to be funded should be agreed at the Access to Resources Panel. This should be recorded in the child’s placement plan and Child in Care Review, being reviewed 6 monthly.


3. Relief Care

Payments to Relief Carers

Relief carers provide an alternative care option, to enable children to stay within their usual foster home environment. A relief carer has to be assessed by the Fostering Social Worker and is approved by the Area Service Manager, to provide care to a specific named child/young person. They come into the foster carers home to provide care for a child whist the main carer takes their annual leave break. Relief Carers will be paid up to 14 nights of the carers annual leave and receive the professional reward only, as the maintenance payment remains with the main carer to continue to provide for the children’s needs within the home.


4. Unpaid Leave

If foster carers take over the 14 nights agreed annual leave, this will be unpaid. The child’s needs must be taken into account with any requests for them to be cared for outside of the main fostering household.

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