As a result of the cost of living crisis and rising bills, The Fostering Network, the UK’s biggest foster care charity, has warned foster carers are unable to afford the costs of looking after children in their care.
Only Scotland lacks a national minimum allowance, with campaigners warning children could face a postcode lottery in terms of funding.
New research published on Wednesday revealed foster carers are receiving less than is needed to support a child, with many forced to dip into their own money to cover the costs of caring.
The charity say the problem has been worsened by the rising levels of inflation, which have now reached a 40-year high of 11.1%, driven by rising energy bills.
The Fostering Network say 70% of foster carers surveyed say they have considered quitting due to rising costs.
During the next year alone, Scotland will need 500 additional foster families.
As part of their manifesto and Promise Implementation Plan, the Scottish Government has committed to setting a national minimum allowance.
In an open letter to the care community last month, Nicola Sturgeon said “continued action is needed” from the government to support children and young people.
The First Minister wrote: “I am absolutely committed to keeping The Promise by 2030 but I also recognise that continued action is needed by the Scottish Government, by councils, by local services, by health boards – by all of Scotland – to ensure our Promise is kept.”
Jacqueline Cassidy, director of The Fostering Network in Scotland, said: “We are calling on the Scottish Government to fulfil the commitments they have made to children and young people as part of The Promise.
“Scottish Government must act now to make sure that children in foster care and the families that support them don’t go without.
“Introducing a minimum fostering allowance is vital to enable children to thrive, ending the postcode lottery of care across Scotland, and to counter the retention and recruitment crisis the fostering sector was already battling with prior to the cost of living crisis.”
Ms Cassidy continued: “Currently, the Scottish Government is failing the very children they are legally responsible for, as well as the foster carers who look after them.
“Many of the children coming into care will have experienced trauma, foster carers help them overcome this and enable them to flourish. To be able to do their best for our young people, foster carers must be supported – and that means ensuring they have enough money to provide for the children in their care, who they look after on behalf of the state.
“We believe decisions relating to finance should always be made with the children’s best interest at heart.”
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