Care charging policy defended

By Ian Dipple Friday 28 March 2014 Updated: 28/03 09:01

A WOMAN who was put into care as a child has defended a controversial new charging policy.

Batchley resident Tracy Thomas said Worcestershire County Council’s decision to ask for contributions from parents of children in care in certain circumstances was right to stop irresponsible parents abusing the system.

As the Standard reported last week the NSPCC has warned the policy could deter people from seeking help and lead to children suffering abuse slipping through the net.

But the mother of three said it was nothing news as in the late 1970s she spent a short period in a care home and her dad was ordered to pay £70 a week as a contribution to her costs.

“When my parents divorced they didn’t want to look after me. My dad was drinking and my mum had disappeared off the scene,” she told the Standard.

“Social services went after the only one they could find and ordered him to pay and my how he protested. I remained in the care home for six weeks and the only reason I ended up going back home was because my dad refused to pay.”

Eventually Ms Thomas was taken into care permanently as her dad was neglecting her but it was not the only time the 48-year-old has experienced the care system.

Her own children had to be placed with a foster parent for five months after illness forced her into hospital.

“Clothing, toys, equipment, anything my foster parents came to me and asked for I did as much as I could to support them on top of what they were getting from social services because that was my responsibility,” she said.

“If children are being abused or neglected then of course they shouldn’t be charged, but I didn’t end up in care because I wanted to be in care it was down to bone idleness because my parents did not want to look after me and I don’t think the taxpayer should have to put up with that.

“Too many parents think social services are a great stop gap and they should be made to pay.”

Coun Liz Eyre, responsible for children and families on the council, has insisted families in crisis will not be charged and children needing to be kept safe and those on benefits or low incomes would also be exempt. She added a contribution would only be asked for after a full financial assessment had been made and it did not necessarily mean money but paying for an item of clothing or an activity.

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