Councillors in East Lothian have agreed to increase the fees paid to local foster carers in recognition of the valuable role that they play in the lives of children and young people.

Every child should feel valued and have the same opportunities to thrive within their local community.

The decision was approved at a Cabinet meeting today (12 March 2024).

East Lothian Council will increase its weekly payment from £160 for carers of 0-11 year olds and £220 for young people aged 12 and over, to £315 per week regardless of the age of the child. An enhanced payment of £365 per week will be paid to existing ‘level 3’ carers who have significant experience. The new rate will take effect from 1 April 2024.

Important role

The increased payment reflects the important role that East Lothian foster carers play in keeping children and young people within local communities when they need care outwith their home. A shortage of local foster carers means that children and young people may be moved to available homes outside the county disrupting connections with schools, friends and family members at an already difficult time. It also reflects the higher costs of living that all families face.

It is hoped that a more streamlined payment structure and higher weekly fee will retain existing carers and encourage new ones to come forward. The council’s children’s services team are urgently seeking more local foster carers to bring children or young people who are in an out of area placement, home to East Lothian.

Positive relationships

The Council’s Fostering Service was recently praised by the Care Inspectorate for the support it provides to caregivers and the difference it is making in the lives of children and young people requiring foster care. Describing the support for wellbeing as ‘4: good’ and the planning of care and support ‘5: very good’, the Inspectorate concluded that caregiver families benefited from positive relationships and responsive support to assist them in their role. Carers were quoted as saying “the staff are always accessible and there to help” and “our social worker always supports us well”. Inspectors also highlighted the enduring and loving relationships that children experienced with their foster carers and improvements in their well-being as a result of the stability they receive.

Dedicated and loving

Cabinet member for Education and Children’s and Family Services Councillor Fiona Dugdale said: “We cannot overstate how important it is that we have dedicated and loving foster carers within East Lothian to offer safe, supportive and stable homes to children and young people when they need them. Every child should feel valued and have the same opportunities to thrive within their local community.

“The council’s financial challenges are well-documented but we cannot lose sight of the fact that we have a legal and moral responsibility to the children and young people who rely on us and ensuring there are enough safe, loving local homes is imperative. I am pleased that we are increasing our weekly fees to foster carers for the important work that they do. I hope that this, plus the Care Inspectorate’s glowing assessment of our work and support provided, will encourage more dedicated people to join our fostering family.”

Life-changing care

East Lothian Council’s Head of Children’s Services Lindsey Byrne added: “Our foster carers are such an important part of Children’s Services and it is a privilege to witness the life changing care they offer to children of all ages in our communities. We are delighted to be able to increase the fostering fee and really value the ongoing commitment of our current carers.

“In East Lothian, we believe that children should live with their family and will always try to support families to stay together. However, for some children, this is not a possibility and we need more local foster carers to provide loving and nurturing care while allowing children to remain connected to the people and places that are important to them.

“If you have been thinking about enquiring about fostering, please do give our dedicated fostering team a call – they will be delighted to hear from you and it could be the start of a very rewarding new chapter for you.”

To find out more about fostering with East Lothian Council visit or call 01620 827 643.

Published: Tuesday, 12th March 2024