Foster families across the country charged for ‘free’ school transport

Foster families around the country are being forced to pay for what should be free school transport – but councils will now be warned against the practice.

The local government and social care ombudsman (LGO) recently discovered Warwickshire County Council had told foster carers to pay for transport out of their fostering allowance when children attended schools beyond the statutory walking distance, even though they should have been entitled to free travel.

LGO Michael King said he knows of “a number” of other councils charging the same and will be urging them to review the policy.

Children whose foster families had to pay were being treated differently to children living with their birth families and getting free transport. He said carers should not be “penalised” for trying to maintain stability by keeping children in the schools they are used to.

“I would now urge others to check their policies as a matter of urgency to ensure they are treating fosters carers, and the children they look after, fairly when it comes to school transport,” he added.

A spokesman for Warwickshire Council said it was “never our intention to put any foster children at a disadvantage”.

He said the council accepts the LGO’s findings and is now reimbursing carers and “taking appropriate steps to review its policy”.

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  1. Ros Lucas

    So many bizarre decisions for all families – teo children living 0.2 miles apart living in the same village – one has free transport to school, the other has to pay £800 up front! THe parents who have free travel earn twice as much as the others, who also have to run two cars to get to station from village with exorbitant parking charges coming in the New Year. Child care after school is also required because the school bus only has one journey home and too early for parents to get back from London or for child to stay and do after school clubs yet! Talk about wage cuts and cost of living rises – it is certainly putting enormous pressure on some parents.