All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance from their fostering service when they have a child in placement, which is designed to cover the cost of caring for a fostered child. This includes food, clothes, toiletries, travel and all other expenses incurred and varies depending on the age of the child. Some foster carers also get a fee for their time, skills and experience however, these reports focus purely on the allowances given to the foster carer to cover the costs of looking after a fostered child.
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.
England, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have national minimum allowances set by their respective governments, but not all fostering services comply. Therefore, every year The Fostering Network checks the allowances paid by all local authorities in England and Wales, and health and social services trusts in Northern Ireland, to ensure they meet national minimum levels, and campaigns for them to be brought up to these levels where they are falling short.
Read our allowances reports from the last three years here.
The children and young people needing foster care today have many different needs but all require their foster carers to be skilled, knowledgeable, committed to them and recognised as a key professional in the team that supports them.
Despite this, many foster carers are not paid for the skills, time and expertise they bring to fostering. Of those who are paid, only a minority receive anything resembling a living wage, although a very small number do get significant fee payments.
The fostering allowance is designed to cover the cost of caring for a fostered child. Fee payments can be made on top of allowances, but there is no requirement for this. As a result, the amounts being paid vary hugely across the country, with only a small minority of foster carers even receiving the equivalent of the national living wage for a 40-hour week.
Why we’re making this change
Recommendations are now made by national governments
We have been campaigning, on behalf of foster carers, for the introduction of allowances since the early 1990s. We were delighted when governmental recommendations for minimum allowances were introduced in England almost a decade ago, followed by Wales in 2011.
All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance which is designed to cover the cost of caring for a fostered child. This includes food, clothes, toiletries, travel and all other expenses incurred.