Department for Education (DfE) employees who foster a child or care for children of family or friends, such as a grandparent caring permanently for their grandchild, will be offered up to 20 days paid leave to attend training or meetings relating to their role as a carer.
They will also be entitled to additional unpaid time off work to deal with unexpected emergencies, such as welcoming a child into their home at short notice.
Children and families minister Edward Timpson and Chris Wormald, the permanent secretary for the Department for Education, have written to other Government departments to encourage them to adopt their own foster family friendly policy for staff.
The DfE is also urging businesses to support their employees who foster, just as companies such as Tesco and O2 already do.
Edward Timpson, who grew up with more than 80 foster brothers and sisters, said, ‘We’re leading by example in becoming the first Government department to introduce their very own foster family friendly policy. I hope this will encourage more employees to take that important next step knowing that their employer is behind them every step of the way.’
The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) has welcomed the Department for Education’s decision to offer special leave to foster carers and family and friends carers.
Paul Adams, foster development consultation at BAAF, said, ‘This is a significant development that shows an understanding of the real challenges that come with these caring roles, and offers recognition and support to foster carers in work outside the home.
‘We are particularly pleased that this development also recognises family and friends carers, whose needs are just the same as foster carers in this regard. In taking this step, the Department for Education is showing the way to other employers who want to demonstrate a real and meaningful commitment to children in care, or living with family and friends.
'It also sends out the clear message that people in work can also be suitable to foster. We hope that employers in the public and private sector will note this development and follow the department's lead.’