FOSTER caring is a very difficult job. Those who do it are extraordinary people who put in incredible amounts of care and devotion looking after other people’s children as if they were their own, and that takes a very special type of person.

But, as all parents will know all too well, looking after any child costs an awful lot of money so it is vital that foster parents are properly recompensed for what they do.

Yet next week, Bradford Council’s Executive is set to agree to level out foster care allowances to the Government’s minimum rates which will save it about £450,000 a year.

It says, rather than aimed at cost savings, the decision has been forced on it by recent case law which could leave it facing the potential of costly legal challenges if it chose to keep the existing system of two different rates paid to foster carers or extended families.

But the real concern, of course, is that these changes could put people off fostering altogether, reducing the availability of places which could have the knock-on effect of leaving vulnerable children in care for longer, which could potentially cost even more.

The GMB has also warned that another likely knock-on effect is that foster parents might leave the Council’s employ for agencies where their higher wages would have to be footed by the Council, effectively wiping out any savings which might be had.

The changes are set to be phased in over two years but the situation needs to be carefully monitored from the word go. And the Council needs to think hard about how it might find extra funds to help foster parents in future if circumstances dictate.