The Fostering Network believes that it is a matter of social justice that foster carers should be properly remunerated. But it's also a matter of economics - money spent supporting fostering and foster carers now will save society significantly more money in the future. A good immediate starting point would be to ensure that all fostering households receive the equivalent of the national living wage for a notional 40-hour week, paid 52 weeks a year, including holiday and sick pay. In the longer term we believe that foster carers should be paid in line with residential care workers, starting at around £20,000. We think that this is a small price to pay for ensuring that there are enough properly supported and motivated foster carers for generations of children who need them in years to come.
Despite the fact that most foster carers don't shout a lot about pay - indeed among the motivations for fostering as reported by foster carers, fee payments are consistently ranked low on the list - it doesn't mean foster carers shouldn't get paid or that pay is not important to them. Indeed, a recent survey we conducted with foster carers about pay received an unprecedented 1,000 responses in 24 hours (almost 2,000 responses in total), with 98 per cent of respondents saying that they think foster carers should get paid and, very importantly, a significant majority of foster carers who are already paid saying that they feel that they should get more..
Nearly 1,500 foster carers in England took part in the survey which revealed that, although the number of foster carers who receive a fee payment is increasing, only one in 10 receives the equivalent of the national living wage for a 40-hour week.
Other key findings from the survey include:
• Just over half (58 per cent) of foster carers receive a fee which is separate from the allowance.
• 15 per cent of foster carers do not receive any fees at all, and a quarter of foster carers receive a lump sum payment which includes the allowance and a fee.
• Based on a notional 40-hour week, a quarter of foster carers received the equivalent of less than £1.70 an hour.
• 98 per cent believe that foster carers should be paid.
Fees and allowances survey - England
Every year The Fostering Network surveys local authority fostering services on the fees and allowances that they pay their foster carers. You can read the outcome of the latest survey (for 2017-18) here.
The Fostering Network's view
The Fostering Network has a foster carer pay policy, which includes:
- In the short term fostering fees must be paid at a level equivalent to the living wage based on a 40-hour week for 52 weeks of the year, including holiday and sick pay, regardless of whether the foster carer has a placement or not and providing they are available to take a child.
- In the longer term fostering fees should be paid on a par with residential workers in children’s homes.
- Governments should invest in local authorities and trusts to ensure the necessary finance is available.
Foster carers should continue to receive fee payments while allegations of malpractice are investigated.