All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance which is designed to cover the cost of caring for a fostered child. This should cover food, clothes, toiletries and all other expenses incurred in looking after a fostered child.
Allowances are set at local level and vary widely across the UK, and according to the age and needs of a child, but in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, foster carers should receive at least the national minimum rates.
Scotland does not currently have national minimum allowances for foster carers, although the Scottish Government has committed to making national recommendations in the near future.
Fee payments can be made on top of allowances to recognise a foster carers’ time, skills and experience. While all foster carers receive an allowance, there is no requirement for fee payments to be made. As a result only around 50 per cent of foster carers receive a fee or ‘reward’ element for the work that they do caring for children, and the amount varies hugely. Usually fee-paid carers receive payment only when they have a child in placement.
Payments and allowances should be separate and clearly identified so that foster carers know which portion of their fostering income should be spent on caring for the child in their care, and which is for the job that they do. However, some fostering services will make a lump sum ‘financial package’ which does not make the split clear.
Read our policy on pay for foster carers.
How we can help foster carers
Our recommendations and campaign work
We push for improvements in national governmental minimum rates and offer advice to foster care associations and foster carers to help with local level negotiations.
We believe that all foster carers should be paid for the job that they do, and campaign to change the current lottery of fee payments.
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