Children could be charged for being taken into care

Children could be charged for being taken into care if they are over the age of 16
Children could be charged for being taken into care if they are over the age of 16
Ian Dunt By

Children over the age of 16 could be charged for being taken into care, according to plans being proposed by Worcestershire council.

A draft policy document released as part of a consultation says it plans to charge parents up to £900 a month for children taken into care for 'non-crisis' situations.

The charges would be shifted onto the child themselves after they turn 16 if they are deemed to be able to pay.

The council also plans to charge for some services short of taking children into care.

Most charging options, which are expected to amount to £10,660 a year, will apply to the parents.

Exemptions will be made in the case of parents receiving child tax credit, jobseeker's allowance or state pension.

The consultation document also allows for exemptions in exceptional cases, such as where women are fleeing domestic violence.

"In certain cases, some parents and carers express a wish to contribute towards the cost of some of the services their children receive if they have the means to do so, and the charging procedure that is part of this policy has been developed to enable them to do this," Siobhan Williams, Worcestershire county council's head of children's social care, said.

"We believe that a child's parents should be as fully involved as possible in all aspects of the care and wellbeing of their child and this policy is about supporting that partnership approach.

"Unfortunately there are also rare cases where parents who can offer their children a home again refuse to do so, and this policy also allows us to ask those parents for a contribution towards the cost of their care. If a family are in crisis they would not be charged for services."

But children's groups reacted angrily to the news and warned that it could deter parents from placing children in care.

"It is disappointing that they are still considering plans to charge parents for services for children in care," NSPCC's head of strategy and development for looked-after children Tom Rahilly said.

"We believe that this won't be in the best interests of children. It's unlikely that they will recover a significant contribution towards the costs of care but more importantly it risks putting parents off seeking help.

"This will result in later support for children and could mean that their problems get worse."

Worcestershire council, which has 640 children in care, says provisions in the Children Act 1989 allow it to secure funds from parents "where reasonable".

The consultation runs until October.


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