Can cash tackle Slough's foster parent shortage?

A mother, father and child walking in the countryside The council said it did not want carers who were in it for the money

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A Berkshire council is spending more than £800,000 to try and recruit more foster carers and adoptive parents.

Slough Borough Council said it had 26 children waiting for adoptive families and desperately needed more foster homes.

The authority reduced its fees paid to foster carers in 2010 but it denied the move had caused the current shortage.

Director of Children's Services Clair Pyper said the authority did not want carers who were in it for the money.

Ms Pyper said the shortage was caused by an increase in children needing homes rather than families being put off by the allowance.

According to the council, foster families previously received £400 a week for looking after a child but that amount was cut in 2010 to £200 a week, plus allowances, meaning families now receive about £320 to £350 a week.

Ms Pyper said: "When we reduced the pay we reduced it to the same level as most other local authorities. We have recruited more foster carers in the last year than we did before the payments were reduced.

"We have had over 20 applications for foster carers since we reduced the allowance - we don't want people who do it for the money.

"We also need permanent families for children who have been in foster care and need to move on."

Ms Pyper said the extra money - £826,000 - would be spent on advertising and recruiting people to assess potential parents and carers.

One Slough foster carer, Raj Kaur, said she had been looking after children for 12 years.

Despite some frustrations over red tape, she said it had been rewarding to see children "turn around from the life they had" and see their behaviour "coming back into normality".

A report by the Fostering Network, released at the end of 2011, revealed that the number of children in care needing foster homes had risen five years in a row, from 49,700 in 2005 to more than 59,000 in 2011.

The charity said at least 8,750 new foster families would be required by fostering services across the UK in 2012.

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