Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Children 'may be charged for care'

A council is considering recovering some of the costs of children's social care from parents or even children themselves

Children could be asked to cover some of the costs of being taken into care under radical new plans under consideration by one council.

Worcestershire County Council is considering recovering some of the costs of children's social care from parents or even children themselves if they are over the age of 16 and meet certain criteria.

The council has launched a consultation, running until October, on recouping some of the costs from parents but also says children over 16 are "liable to contribute".

The document says the council cannot charge for services that it is legally obliged to provide - such as child protection or adoption - but it could charge for accommodation costs or social worker fees.

The consultation document acknowledges there would be "very limited cases when it would be considered appropriate to seek a contribution from a young person", and parents would be charged "only if it is reasonable to do so".

But failure to make payments could result in them being taken to court.

Under the proposals, parents, or children over 16, would be told they might be required to make financial contributions before the child is placed into care.

The document says: "It is essential that parents are made aware that they retain parental responsibility for their child and will be expected to contribute towards the costs of their care."

But the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said the proposals could put parents off seeking help.

NSPCC's head of strategy and development for looked after children, Tom Rahilly, said: "It's unlikely that they will recover a significant contribution towards the costs of care but more importantly it risks putting parents off seeking help. This will result in later support for children and could mean that their problems get worse."

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