FOSTER parents in Kirklees look set for a big cash boost.

Kirklees Council Cabinet members are expected to give the go-ahead for increased allowances to foster parents at their meeting on Wednesday next week.

The new payments will be backdated to Monday this week.

It is estimated that the boosted payments will result in an extra £760,000 being spent on the service next year.

The move partly follows the rising challenge from private fostering agencies.

Some offer carers up to £600 per week while charging the council a premium of almost £1,500.

Out of the 189 children in foster care in Kirklees, 33 are with private agencies, at an average weekly cost of £631.

Three years ago, there were 138 children with foster families in the region. As the council has been unable to cope with the growing need for foster homes, it has been forced to rely on private firms.

Next year, Kirklees aims to recruit 10 more foster parents.

Changes in society have seen a drop in the number of foster parents over the past 20 years.

It is hoped the new payments will encourage more people to consider caring for children.

At the moment, adults fostering under-fours receive an allowance of £69.09 a week. That is set to rise to £108.49.

Carers of five to 10-year-olds now receive £82.77. That will go up to £123.58.

Foster parents of children aged 11 to 15 are now entitled to £102.97. That will increase to £153.84.

Carers of over-16s can now expect £133.35. The figure will rise to £191.37.

Foster parents with special skills - ranging from first aid to being able to deal with youngsters with severe disabilities or behavioural problems - will be entitled to extra weekly payments of between £50 and £200.

Allowances include cash for youngsters' clothes, food, day-to- day living, transport, social activities and school dinners.

Estimates of average weekly child-rearing costs vary from £52 a week through to £102.71 for teenagers.

The Fostering Network, a national organisation representing carers, says children in foster care are 50% more expensive to keep than youngsters cared for by their own parents.