Do I get paid to foster? This is the question that most people are afraid to ask or assume that foster carers do it on a voluntary basis.
However, our foster carers receive financial support for every foster child in their care. Fostering payments are calculated weekly depending on the age and number of children they foster.
The payments are split into the child allowance - which is to help cover the costs of caring for a child such as food, heating, and clothing - and a carer fee - which acknowledges the skills, training, time, and commitment needed to care for our children.
Below are the weekly payments that our foster carers receive.
Weekly child allowance and carer fee
Below are just a few examples of what you can expect to receive based on a couple of scenarios. These are based on any child being in your care all year round (365 days).
Total payment received (per year)
Care for a baby
Care for a 13-year-old
Care for a sibling group - aged 3 and 8 years
Care for a 11-year-old and a 16-year-old
NB: Foster carers looking after children who are deemed to have complex needs will receive a higher carer fee.
Is foster care pay taxed?
Generally not. Income tax exemption on foster care pay is called 'Qualifying Care Relief' and means that you don't need to pay tax on the first £10,000 your household makes in any year. Foster care pay is subject to additional tax relief of up to £250 a week for every week a child is in your care.
If I foster, will this affect my payments?
No, due to 'Qualifying Care Relief', most benefits you receive will not be affected by being a foster carer.
If you are receiving foster carers' pay (fostering allowance), you are still entitled to receive certain benefits. Your fostering allowance will not affect your eligibility for Housing Benefit, Universal Credit, or Carers' Allowance/Disability Living Allowance for your own child. Fostering counts as self-employment, so you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
The only exception is Jobseeker's Allowance which will be affected if you are receiving a fostering allowance.
Fostering and work
Many people ask if you can be a foster carer and work. If you want to foster but don't want to give up your career, contacting your local authority would be the best choice. Some fostering agencies will encourage you to give up your job to foster. However, local authority fostering is flexible and varied.
Some local authority foster carers work, some foster carers are home during the day, some have foster children all the time, some reduce their working hours for the school run, and some foster carers are retired.
We have foster carers with varying professions which demonstrates just how flexible fostering can be. Some include:
- Council staff
- NHS staff
- Drainers Operator
- Train Driver
- Lab technician
If you care for children under the age of 5, then one person in the household would need to be available 24/7. If you care for children of compulsory school age, then there is an expectation for someone in the household to be available for the school runs.