By Debbie le Quesne

Now children could get charged for their care

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The old saying goes: “Times is hard.” They certainly are and to prove just how hard, Worcestershire County Council appears to be throwing political caution to the wind with their latest plant for pay-as-you-go care . . . for children.

Before we get too deep into politics – the West Midlands Care Association is strictly none political – but I am left open-mouthed to read in the Guardian that some children could be forced to help meet the costs of being taken into care under the authority proposal.

In fact, I found myself reading the article twice to make sure I had not misread the story.

Let me quote the online feature: “The idea to shift social care costs onto parents, carers and even children themselves if they are over 16 comes from Worcestershire County Council which has put the idea out to consultation. If carers and children do not comply with the new initiative they could face legal action, the local authority has warned.”

The article goes on to explain that certain groups of children will remain exempt from the proposed charging regime, which could land youngsters or their carers with bills of up to £10,000 a year.

My first reaction is one of shock. Are children, whom for no fault of their own are in the ‘system’ ,to be penalised for needing care?

As you’ll image the comments on the piece are robust and much reference is made to a Dickensian way of life involving chimneys and young boys www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/13/children-charged-social-care-worchestershire#start-of-comments

The Guardians explains: “The scheme would affect children placed in voluntary care and the council will still pay for statutory child protection, adoption services and for services for young offenders and those involved in anti-social behaviour.

“Social workers will be expected to help assess whether parents or children can afford to pay. Chargeable services include the involvement of a social worker, accommodation, advice and guidance, family support, family group conferences and activities outside of the home.”

The council does acknowledge “the point at which a child becomes accommodated can be quite traumatic and it is recognised that this may be a difficult time to start a financial assessment.”

Very few of our carers are involved in children’s work and at times like this I am grateful. I’m also grateful I’m not a social worker.

But the proposal must be a clear indicator of how financially stretched all local authorities now are. I’m left asking if children are now being targeted personally, what hope is there for out old people and disabled?

Barnardo’s and the NSPCC are known for their measured response to crisis but according to the article, they “fear the scheme could deter parents and carers from seeking much-needed help from the council.”

I too fear that to be true and what of the long-term effect on social rehabilitation and independence with these children?

Written by debbielq

August 19, 2013 at 7:55 am

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