FOSTER children in Dorset should all be getting the same financial deal – including savings for when they leave care.

Until now some have had foster parents save for them to produce a lump sum at 18, or 25 depending on the circumstances – while others get nothing.

Dorset Council will also be sorting out what those above the age of 18 are eligible to receive and what they can claim for from the council to help them when they leave care.

Councillors have been told that for both groups there has been confusion over what children and young people are entitled to.

Cllr Cathy Lugg says it has been patently unfair that some children leaving foster care at the age of 18 take with them a savings pot, while others get nothing, because the guidance on savings has not been followed by foster carers, or checked on by some social workers.

“I’m really shocked to discover there is no set level for savings…how unfair is it that some are saving for foster children and other are not,” she said.

“Every child who has been in care needs to have some savings when they reach eighteen.”

The council’s corporate parenting board heard that social workers are expected to advise foster parents about saving for those they care for – but this sometimes gets overlooked.

A similar situation has applied for those aged 18+ when they leave the care of the local authority. Depending on their workers knowledge of the system some are helped to claim a raft of financial support, while others get very little.

The meeting heard that help is available for the older age groups for driving lessons, further education, setting up a first home and a range of other life milestones including obtaining a passport. Councillors were told that too often this was done in an ad hoc way, case by case, and there was no definitive framework about the support available.

Executive director of children’s services Theresa Leavy said work was now underway to make the guidelines clearer for both those in care and over 18s leaving care.

“It is important to be consistent and fair and to make sure people know about it,” she said.