The guidance contains clear information about how fostering services should support foster carers financially. It is thanks to The Fostering Network’s campaigning that this requirement was written into the law.
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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.
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.
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.
As the new term starts, I’m grateful that I’m beyond the age to be dragged around the shops to pick up new items of uniform, including shoes with enough room to grow into.
I am often asked if it is better to foster for the local authority (LA) or an independent fostering agency. Once upon a time there were no independent agencies and all children who came into care were placed ‘in house’, that is, with a foster carer recruited by the local authority.