We know that looking after children costs money and that many people need to know they will be financially secure before they can properly consider fostering. It would take too long to go into every payment here, but we aim to give you an overview. If you would like to discuss fees and allowances in more detail please give us a call and we will happily discuss them with you.
We pay our foster carers a combination of skill level payments and allowances. The skill level payment is determined by the skill level of the foster carer. There are three levels. Each skill level has different standards (some around providing good care to the children you’re looking after, others about regularly attending training and support groups) that foster carers have to meet to move up the skill levels and to maintain their skill level.
All of our new foster carers, whatever type of fostering they are doing, start as level one carers (unless transferring from another fostering agency that can provide us with evidence that they meet the standards for level two). Most foster carers move up to level two. At level one the skill payment for having one foster child is £85 a week. This goes up to £185 a week at level two.
We also pay an allowance based on the age of the child. This ranges from £122 a week for a child aged 0-4 up to £179 a week for a young person aged 16+. The intention is that this allowance covers all the costs of looking after a child, including food, clothing, activities, pocket money, transport, gas, electric, etc.
You will receive a skills payment plus the relevant allowance every week you have a foster child living with you. If a child leaves or arrives part of the way through the week, you will receive payment pro rata for time they are with you.
We also pay additional one off payments throughout the year. There is a holiday allowance in the summer to allow you to take a foster child away on holiday, a birthday allowance to cover the costs of a birthday party and presents for a foster child and a Christmas/Cultural celebration allowance paid in December.
We can also pay an equipment allowance when you first start fostering, clothing allowances when a foster child first arrives with you and mileage for exceptional journeys outside regular day-to-day travel, but decisions about these allowances are made on a case-by-case basis.
Generally, we can’t provide foster carers with any payments between placements. The exceptions to this are foster carers providing Emergency/Out of Hours fostering who will receive a payment for being available outside office hours and foster carers providing Remand or PACES beds who will receive a retainer to ensure that the bed is available to the youth justice service when they need it.
For those who want to do Holiday Support Care or Community Support Care this is paid with a flat fee of £125 plus an allowance based on the age of the child (as above), which is then worked out pro-rata for the amount of time you care for the child.
If you’re interested in the Short Breaks Scheme, we use a combination of an overnight payment (depending on skill level and the age of the child) and a flat day-care rate. The overnight payment starts at £46.29 for a level one carer looking after a child aged 0-4 and goes up to £70.43 for a level three carer looking after a child aged 16 or 17. The day-care rate is £4.50 an hour.
Fostering fees and allowances do not count as an income for tax and benefit purposes and thus don’t affect any benefit entitlement. Full time foster carers may be able to claim a combination of working tax credits, job seekers allowance and/or income support (plus other benefits they may be entitled to) depending on their individual circumstances. While the introduction of Universal Credit is likely to affect fostering, it will continue to disregard fostering fees and allowances for tax and benefit purposes.