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Foster carers in bid to organise as trade union members

Foster carers have decided to form a section within the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, in their first attempt to organise as trade union members.

They are concerned about their lack of employment rights, pay rates and ability to effectively raise concerns when a child is removed from their care.

There are thought to be some 55,000 households that foster around 64,000 children in all.

Carers receive a fee and an allowance to cover the costs of looking after the child concerned.

Jon Katona, IWUGB vice-president, said a meeting in Parliament to launch the initiative had sought to establish the nature of the challenges that face foster carers and to elect representatives to carry plans forward for a foster care workers’ branch within the union.

He said: “Further actions include a followup with supporting barristers to put together a possible test-case to improve working rights, and putting together a cross-party parliamentary group to lobby for a change in legislation.”

Katona said the decision to set up the branch marked a “monumental step forward in the fight for respect, fair renumeration and proper working rights for foster carers”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We really appreciate the work foster carers do, as we know it is a very rewarding, but at times challenging, experience.

“Foster carers receive financial support to cover the full cost of caring for a child and we're launching a fundamental review of fostering across the country, which will look at the issues affecting foster carers, including accountability and complaints.”

Mark Smulian