The Scottish Government has been accused of ‘failing’ children in foster care amid the rising cost of living.
The UK’s biggest fostering charity, The Fostering Network, have warned that foster carers are struggling to afford the costs of looking after children in their care as their current allowance is not sufficient to cope with the cost of living crisis and rising bills.
Scotland is currently the only country in the UK to not have a national minimum allowance, with campaigners warning children can face a postcode lottery of funding support.
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.
It comes as Scotland needs an additional 500 foster families in the next year alone.
The Scottish Government have been called upon to set a national minimum allowance, a commitment made in their manifesto and in their Promise Implementation Plan – “The Promise”.
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 post code 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.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We value the commitment that foster and kinship carers make to providing loving and caring homes for some of our most vulnerable children and young people.
“We would like to assure our caregivers that we are committed to introducing a Scottish Recommended Allowance and we are in discussions with COSLA to progress this as soon as possible.”