How much do foster carers get paid?
If you are considering fostering it is inevitably that at some point you will want to know how much you are likely to get paid.
People do not become foster carers just for the money – in fact, if you thinking along those lines you should probably stop now as fostering is not going to be the profession for you.
Nonetheless, knowing the financial implications is important. It sits alongside, ‘What level of support will my fostering agency provide?’ and ‘How much training will I receive?’ in the key questions people should ask.
A career choice
Many foster carers give up alternative careers to take up fostering full time and it is sensible to know what the impact will be on your income. After all, it costs money to raise a child – to clothe them, to feed them, to encourage them to take up hobbies and interests. Think about driving them to rugby practice or trampolining club, these costs add up.
The good news is, that as part of your foster carer payment, you will be compensated for this. The exact amount depends on the age of the child, but these costs are included in the fostering allowance which forms the first part of your foster care payment.
This is supplemented by a reward payment paid by the fostering agency. This second element of payment recognises a foster carer’s level of experience, skill set and the type of placement involved. In this respect fostering is just like any other profession, as it offers an incentive to continue training and keep improving as foster carer.
Tax free income
An important distinction from other professions, however, is that you will receive very favourable tax relief on your income from the government. The degree to which you are tax exempt depends on your circumstances, but to give an example:
If you were to look after two children for a year, who were both aged 11 years-old or over, then the first £36,000 of income you receive through fostering would be tax free.
At Perpetual Fostering we understand that money is not the main reason why people foster – this was recently made evident in a blog written by our foster carer Adrian. But it is important to have a clear understanding of the financial implications of fostering.
To get the full details on how your tax exemption will be calculated, you can visit the HMRC website.
For further information on foster care payments, however, please contact our team directly on the website or by calling 0845 0740076.
Providing a secure and stable family environment is incredibly important for the emotional well-being of looked-after children.
Unfortunately, too many are not given the opportunity to enjoy this type of settled upbringing. According to the Department of Education, approximately 11% of looked-after children will experience three or more foster care placements each year.
This is clearly a problem and it is why the government has been consulting with care professionals over ways to establish more ‘permanence’ for looked-after children.
If children cannot be returned to their birth parents then adoption is an alternative. It offers a fantastic opportunity for children to gain access to a family. But the reality is just 5% of looked-after children are adopted each year. This compares to the 75% (more than 50,000 children) who live with foster carers.
For the three quarters in foster care, being part of settled family unit would clearly be more beneficial than change after change. We know lots of short-term placements can be detrimental to development, while long-term fostering provides greater certainty for the child. It has been argued, therefore, that long-term foster care should be regarded as the permanence option of choice for most children in care who cannot return to their birth family.
Under long term fostering arrangements, the child does not completely break contact with their birth parents – who, for whatever reason, are unable to care for them. Although it does mean that the amount of contact they have is reduced – this could be just once or twice a year.
What is considered most important is that the child is able to embed themselves within the fostering family. This provides security, stability and certainty – it also allows them to form attachments and make the affectionate bonds that are the cornerstone of emotionally security.
Better for the foster carer
Long-term fostering arrangements can also be better for carers as they gain access to professional support and foster care payments. This level of support is often a key reason why people choose fostering over adoption. For an example of this, read Linda’s fostering story here.
What is needed is more people willing to give a looked-after child the chance to be part of a loving family.
There are more than 30, 000 new foster care placements required each year in the UK but there are not enough carers to meet the need. If you think you might be able to provide a home, and you want to know more about the professional support available or foster care payments, please visit the appropriate pages on our website. Alternatively, you can talk all this through, over the phone, with one of our team by calling 0845 1304748.
First and foremost, fostering is about the children being looked after. But for many people, the reality is, it would be difficult to be a foster carer without the financial support available.
From a professional perspective it is also important that the role foster carers perform is recognised through payment. Especially as there is an expectation that foster carers will commit to training, develop their skills and take on extra responsibilities – at Perpetual Fostering we ask experienced foster carers to perform the additional role of mentoring their peers.
It is understandable, therefore, that before people apply to become a foster carer that they want to know what their financial position is likely to be. When I visit potential foster carers, these are among the questions I am commonly asked and it is good to know financial support is there.
Foster care payments can vary, as they depend on many things, but we work with people who have been able to leave careers in industries, such as banking, to become full time foster carers.
Can I carry on working and foster?
When I visit potential foster carers for the first time, one of the top questions I also get asked is, “can I keep a part time job?” Well, the answer is yes.
We do differ from some other agencies in that we recognise foster carers may want the option to work part time. We are realistic and understand we are in the 21st Century and people may want that extra income to pay bills, etc. We feel it is important that we are able to work around this.
The government also has taken steps to make fostering more natural in this respect. It is normal in the UK to have one parent working full time while the second may have a part time job – possibly 16 hours a week to supplement the family income.
If fostering responsibilities are shared between a couple then it is completely viable for the main carer to have a part time job. We have foster carers who carry out their fostering role and work in schools, nurseries and supermarkets.
New foster carers should also be aware that they are eligible for very generous tax relief from HMRC when they foster, which can be a big help! You can find out more about this by viewing the foster care payments page on our website.
If you want more detailed information on payments you can also always pick up to phone and speak to one our team. We are happy to speak to you whether you are simply at the information gathering stage or interested in applying to be a foster carer.
Foster care payments are a vital means of supporting the fostering community. They enable people to foster full time and offer the level of care we all strive for.
However, payment is just one element of support which foster carers should receive. Every applicant with Perpetual Fostering receives training that continues through the assessment period and after they are approved as a foster carer.
A foster carer should expect to receive continual training from their agency – we actually encourage and help all our community to work towards nationally recognised qualifications. As foster carers progress along their developmental pathway this is also recognise in the reward element of the foster care payments they receive.
Without a placement
We also believe that support should be provided not just when a child is placed within your care, but also during the times you do not have a placement. While we do not pay a fostering allowance at this time, we believe it is important that foster carers still receive the highest level of support available. Our values are built around the ethos of offering support at all times and we make a pledge to be with you every step of the way, not just when a placement has been made.
Alongside this our social work team will work proactively to ensure that you are matched to another child at the earliest convenience. As a provider on the North West and Lancashire Framework contracts, the agency currently receives in excess of 150 placements referrals every month so we do not anticipate a delay in making your next placement. What is important is that during the times without a placement, you take time to recharge your batteries and get ready to do what you do well… care for a child.
In certain circumstances, the agency may pay a retainer fee for a period of time after a placement ends. This is considered at that time and your supervising social worker will discuss this with you.
The support we provide to foster carers also extends to respite. In additional to the fostering allowance, paid on a fortnightly basis, foster carers with Perpetual Fostering receive a respite payment. This payment will cover 54 weeks (2 extra weeks) in a year. Providing you do not use our respite facilities, the extra money is for you to do with as you choose, it may be that you want to put this towards the family holiday.
There is a huge amount of support available beyond the foster care payment and if you would like more information about this please pick up the phone and speak to one of our team, or alternative get in touch via our website. We are happy to help whether you are simply at the information gathering stage or interested in applying to become a foster carer.