Bucks Council has announced an exciting new initiative to attract more foster carers, providing them with a unique package of perks and benefits.

The scheme was launched on Friday, May 10th and includes considerations such as a 100% refund on Council Tax, free bus travel around the county, and free leisure passes.

In light of rising costs for children’s social care, Buckinghamshire Council is pioneering a proactive approach to encourage more foster carer applications.

The benefits package is aimed at acknowledging the invaluable role foster carers play in supporting children in care and expressing gratitude for their efforts.

Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Education, Anita Cranmer, spoke about the specifics of the benefits plan.

Foster carers are now eligible for a retrospective Council Tax allowance which will result in a full refund of their bill provided they have fostered a child continuously or intermittently for over 182 days within the year.

Additionally, foster carers and the children they take care of will be provided with free bus travel within their chosen travel zone in Bucks.

Also, a free membership with access to family swimming and soft play is offered at a selected Buckinghamshire Council leisure centre.

Other perks include free parking, access to Buckinghamshire Country Parks events and activities, increased bin collection, and free family passes to attractions around the county.

Anita Cranmer said: "I am delighted to be able to offer such an extensive range of benefits to our fostering community.

"In addition to our existing highly competitive financial allowances, round the clock support and the specialist training we provide, these new benefits create a tailor-made package to show our carers how much we appreciate and value everything they do.

"We have listened to their requests and looked to develop a bespoke range of perks that will make a real difference in their everyday lives."

Buckinghamshire is among the first locales in the country to reimburse Council Tax completely for its eligible foster carers.

Every existing eligible foster carer and new applicant will be offered these benefits.

An increase in local foster carers could pose multiple benefits for children in need of foster homes and the council.

It’s preferred that foster children stay local, and using in-house Buckinghamshire Council foster carers makes it more cost-effective.

Anita explained further: "We have many children who need a safe and loving foster home.

"If we are unable to find one locally, we are left with no choice but to place these children with carers from external fostering agencies which can mean moving further away and losing contact with friends and their community.

"We know that the best outcome for children of all ages is to continue to live close to home and so we want to recruit more foster carers to join our fantastic fostering community."

In recognition of Foster Care Fortnight, which is set to run from May 13 to May 26, Buckinghamshire Council will be hosting a series of pop-up events across the county, as well as an in-person information session on May 23, from 6pm to 8pm.