Providing the best foster care, while also supporting the cultural identity of a child, incurs costs. Furthermore, ensuring the foster care placement truly nurtures the child, means that being a foster carer becomes a professional role. Foster carers have unique skills and attributes which they should be rewarded for.
Therefore, foster carers need to be able to commit to their role, without concern for money. As such, the role of a foster carer can be seen as a full-time career, where home is your workplace.
Central to this ethos is the fostering allowance. There are set minimums to the amount of fostering allowance you are entitled to which you can see here. You’ll notice that the amount paid to foster carers varies according to a wide variety of different factors including the needs of the child, and their age. Generally speaking, the older a child is, the higher your fostering allowance will be.
The amount of allowance you will be paid is also determined by the nature of the placement and its length. If the child has additional needs in the form of a disability or behavioral condition, a higher fee will be paid. Furthermore, if you have specific skills which are being utilized in the placement, this should also be recognized.
Fostering allowances can be confusing for potential foster carers because foster care pay rates are not regulated by the government. This means that you’ll need to ask the agency you’re considering working with what their rates of pay are and how they compare to the minimum set rates.
At Active Care Solutions, the amounts we pay for faith-based fostering vary. However, depending on the type of placement, it will typically be between £315 ($413) and £515 ($675 )per week.
The Nature of Fostering Allowances
Much like a paycheck from standard employment, it is up to you how you spend your fostering allowance. Obviously, this should include meeting the costs of living for the child in your care. You can use your allowance to pay for everything from food to bills to treats.
Due to the payment of the allowance, and its nature, foster carers are classified as self-employed and will, therefore, need to complete an annual self-assessment tax return. However, foster carers are entitled to specific tax relief arrangements compared to other workers.
For foster carers, there is a fixed tax exemption up to £10,000 ($13,140) per annum. This is an entire household allowance and is shared equally between the foster carers (for example, in a foster parent couple). This allowance ensures you don’t pay tax on the first £10,000 you make in a year from fostering.
Furthermore, you are also entitled to tax relief on a pro-rata basis for the time that a child is in your care. At the present time, the tax exemption is for £200 ($262) per week for children under 11 and £250 ($328) per week for children over 11.
Other Financial Support
It is important to not consider the fostering allowance in isolation, however. When choosing an agency through which to foster, you should take into account their complete ‘package’ of support. This may be an offer of more indirect financial help, but it will help you ascertain an accurate picture of the support you will receive that money just can’t buy.
For example, at Active Care Solutions, we offer specialized support and training, enabling you to excel in your role and bring about transformative help to the children in your care.
When considering becoming a foster carer, or which agency you will work through, it is important to be realistic about the costs and remuneration involved. Find out more here.