CONTROVERSIAL plans to charge parents who put their children into care have been delayed by four months – but council chiefs still say they want to introduce it.

As from October, Worcestershire County Council wants to charge parents for certain children’s services to avoid them intentionally abandoning their children.

A consultation planned for May and June never took place, due to local elections, but has now finally got under way and runs until October 11.

Critics, including leading children’s charity NSPCC, have urged the authority to scrap the idea before it is introduced.

Councillor Peter McDonald, opposition Labour group leader, said: “Once a child is in care, if you’re chasing parents all over the place for money, it just won’t work.

“It will become a minefield and will cause nothing but trouble, stress and anxiety. We should be putting the children first, not the council’s bank balance.”

Under the policy, the council says it will seek contributions to the costs of certain services to ensure children are cared for.

It includes youngsters made intentionally homeless, or those who are abandoned by their family.

Children under a court order for care, 403 of the 636 currently in the system, will not be included.

Siobhan Williams, head of children’s social care, said there are rare cases when children taken into care are ready to go back to their parents, but are refused.

She said: “We believe a child’s parents should be as fully involved as possible in all aspects of the care and well-being of their child – and this policy is about supporting that partnership approach.

She added that if a family is in crisis they would not be charged for services.