Foster carers across the Midlands who are waiting for foster carer payments may not be paid until March this year, it has emerged.
During the period from January 1 to October 31, some €5 million was paid out to 250 foster carers in the Midlands area, which takes in Westmeath, Longford, Offaly, and Laois.
However, because of a new payment system which means foster carers are now paid in arrears, some payments are likely to be delayed until March.
Responding to a question from Cllr Mick Dollard at December’s HSE Regional Health Forum, HSE area manager Joe Ruane said the process of paying foster carers “will not be completed until March 2012”.
“In May 2011 there was a HSE internal audit completed on foster care in the Midlands area which included foster care payments. It was noted that there were overpayments and one of the recommendations of the audit was to pay foster carers in arrears.
“The HSE proceeded with a plan to ensure that foster carers would be paid in arrears by the end of January 2012,” said Mr Ruane.
However, a further meeting was held on November 24 between the Irish Foster Care Association (IFCA ) and the HSE regarding foster care payments.
“The agreement for this meeting was that foster carers will be paid in arrears by three weeks; however, this process will not be completed until March 2012,” added Mr Ruane.
The HSE and IFCA have agreed a new payment process, and correspondence has gone to all foster carers advising them of the amended process.