Leeds & West Yorkshire

Parallel Parents' fostering leaflet criticised

Leaflet
Image caption The leaflet has been delivered to council housing tenants in Leeds

A fostering organisation has been criticised for encouraging council tenants to avoid paying a spare room subsidy by giving a child a home.

Parallel Parents leaflets which have been delivered in Leeds say "Avoid the bedroom tax. Help change a child's life. Become a foster carer".

Carers are exempt from recent benefit cuts for tenants with spare rooms.

Parallel Parents said the use of the leaflets was just one recruitment strategy.

'Truly appalling'

Carole O'Keefe, who received one, said: "I find [it] absolutely abhorrent.

"I wouldn't consider foster care simply to pay my bedroom tax or to avoid the bedroom tax.

"Perhaps people who are desperate not to be evicted from their homes, they might well be the wrong sort of people."

Susan Stacey, a foster carer from Bradford, said she was "appalled" by the leaflet.

She said: "Foster carers must be dedicated to protecting and nurturing young people and not doing it for financial gain.

"If anyone thinks that foster care is about filling a bedroom they are badly advised - it is the most stressful and yet the most rewarding thing l have ever done in my life, where the child always comes first.

"If l worked for the agency involved l would seriously consider looking for another agency, as their recruitment policy is well and truly appalling."

Foster carers in the UK will continue to receive rent payments towards an "additional room" as long as they have fostered a child or become an approved foster carer in the previous 12 months, the government has said.

In a statement Parallel Parents, an independent organisation based in Stockport, said the leaflet was "just one recruitment strategy, a way of encouraging people to become foster parents".

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering said a foster carer would only be approved if they "fully appreciate they are providing a child-focused service".

It said: "If financial gain was the sole motivation the applicant would not be approved."

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