We care about foster carers and will give you continuing support in many different ways:
- you will have your own supervising social worker who will visit you regularly and who you can contact during office hours
- you can access other support workers who can offer a range of support and link you with other professionals
- we run a mentoring scheme that pairs new foster carers up with more experienced foster carers
- we can put you in touch with others who live nearby, or who are offering a similar type of fostering to you
- you will have a foster carer ID card which will get you discounts at various leisure and retail outlets
- we have a 24 hour Support Line so you can reach someone 24 hours a day if you need to
- you can take a break between placements when you and your family need one
Fostering fees and allowances
Full time fostering
We pay our foster carers a combinations of skill level payments and allowances. The skill level payment is determined by the skill level of the foster carer - these are split into 3 levels.
All of our new foster carers, whatever type of fostering they are doing, start as level 1 carers (unless transferring from another fostering agency that can provide us with evidence that they meet the standards for level 2). Most foster carers move up to level 2. At level 1, the skill payment for having one foster child is £85 a week. This goes up to £185 a week at level 2.
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 the 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.
Part time fostering
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 1 carer looking after a child aged 0-4 and goes up to £70.43 for a level 3 carer looking after a child aged 16 or 17. The day-care rate is £4.50 an hour.
Tax and benefits
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.
You will receive training both before and after approval as a foster carer.
Pre-approval training (3 days)
- you will undertake this training either just before or after you are allocated an assessing social worker. It forms part of the assessment process. If you are in a relationship, both of you will need to be able to attend all 3 days
- if you are interested only in Short Breaks Scheme day care there is a 1 day condensed course
The training will give you a better understanding of the children you will be looking after, some of what they may have been through, what’s expected of you as a foster carer and how to meet the needs of children we'll be asking you to look after.
Once approved as a foster carer you will be expected to complete a number of courses within your first year. You will also complete a portfolio to evidence that you have met the standards for foster care. Your supervising social worker will help you to complete this.
Further training opportunities
During your fostering career we, together with Health Services and other organisations, will provide training courses to help support you in your role. You will have a professional development plan. Individual specialist training will be given if needed, for example, training on epilepsy.
Foster carer reference group
The group discusses what improvements need to be made to services for looked after children. It is made up of foster carers who meet with our senior managers 4 times a year. The group members are nominated and elected by other foster carers every 2 years.
Members of the group will take up issues on behalf of other carers at meetings with managers and then feedback to carers by direct contact, through support groups and the fostering newsletter. Group members offer different types of care and have different experiences of fostering. Each member is representative of a group of carers.
You can speak to any group member you wish to about issues you would like raised at the meetings with managers.