Finances and Fostering
Affording to become a foster carer: A guide to the financial aspect of fostering, how foster parent allowances and benefits work, and ways to get the most out of money and improve your financial stability as a foster parent.
How do you afford to
foster a child?
The main reason people decide to start fostering is to make a difference to children and young people, however many find challenges when it comes to finances and being able to afford to make that difference.
It is no secret that today’s financial climate has put a strain on most families, and many foster parents have felt exceptional pressure in pursuing and maintaining their crucial role of caring for vulnerable children.
With the goal of changing a child’s life at the very centre of all our priorities, money should never be a barrier to fostering and helping a child have the life that they deserve. We are passionate at Fosterplus about changing lives and helping children feel safe and secure – and we strive to provide loving homes to the many children and young people across the UK who are in need.
While money isn’t always at the top of a foster family’s considerations, it is important that we can provide guidance and support to enable our foster parents to provide that life-changing care, and reassure prospective foster parents that fostering – and making a crucial difference to a child – is undeniably possible, while up against cost of living restraints, with the right support behind you.
Many people do not realise that foster parents are paid an allowance for fostering. If you’re thinking of becoming a foster parent, it is likely that money is not the reason behind your career choice, however it is important to know that you will receive regular payments when caring for children.
The fostering allowance is split into two parts: an allowance payment to help you provide for a foster child in your care – including food, clothing, personal hygiene and activities – and a professional fee paid to you as a foster carer, to reward you for your hard work and dedication.
Whether you foster for the local authority or an independent fostering agency like Fosterplus, you will receive a fostering allowance, which will vary in amount based on where you live, your experience, the ages of the children you care for and the types of foster placements you provide.
We remain open and transparent regarding our allowances and payments at Fosterplus, as we know how important it is for foster parents to have financial stability and feel fully prepared and supported in their role. The allowance we offer will be between £17,555 and £28,078 per year, for each child you care for, which is higher than allowances paid at all local authorities. You will also receive ad-hoc allowances for birthdays and holidays, to help you make these special occasions even more special for the children in your care.
With ongoing recognition of how valuable our foster families are in the work they do, we have consistently increased our payments at Fosterplus to make sure they receive a generous allowance to support them. Additionally, in light of the cost of living crisis, we have supported our foster parents further by providing three additional uplifts to their payments, totalling a substantial increase of 9% this year.
Making your money work for you
One of the best things you can do for your finances is to draw up a proper budget. Looking at finances is something that will form a part of your fostering assessment, and we have offered advice on this at ongoing foster carer support groups. You’ll want to make sure you can feel secure with your finances while fostering and, by budgeting your outgoings, you will have a clear take on what you are spending and where helpful cut-backs can be made.
Wherever possible, saving is also a key aspect of feeling financially secure. Even a small amount put aside a month can build up over time into a decent amount of savings. If there are monthly outgoings that you can reduce; such as by switching a service provider, getting a new phone contract or cutting down on takeaways, then it can be a great opportunity to place the difference in cost into your savings.
One thing to remember when fostering, is that you will only receive fostering allowance payments while a child is in your care – therefore, saving for those times between placements can help.
Working and fostering
We have many foster parents at Fosterplus who work alongside fostering. We recognise that it is not always possible to solely rely on a fostering income, and that now there is less of a requirement for foster parents to be at home all of the time. So if a potential foster parent wishes to continue alternative employment alongside fostering, then we look at this on an individual basis to find what will work best. Some factors we will look at are the hours and flexibility of your work, the supportiveness of your employer and the full network of support you have around you.
It is important to remember that a foster child’s needs are a priority and foster families will need to have the flexibility to support school attendance, manage school holidays or periods of absence, and deal with any emergencies that may arise.
The type of foster placements you offer will also be a factor to consider. Very young children are likely to require more availability and hands-on care, whereas teenagers will be more independent and usually in full time education. As long as you are able to provide the care that a child or young person needs, and this balances well alongside your employment, there is no reason why you cannot work and foster at the same time. Fosterplus will be there to advise you and support you throughout every step of the fostering process, so if you’d like to know more about working and fostering then please speak to our team.
Tax and benefits
As a foster parent, you'll benefit from a £10,000 annual tax relief allowance, plus an additional weekly allowance for each child in your care. Thanks to this qualifying care relief, you will find that when you are fostering, you will pay very little or no tax at all on your fostering income.
This tax relief helps foster parents immensely with affording to foster.
Another thing to consider when fostering is any benefits you’re entitled to. As payments from fostering are not counted towards income, your means-tested benefits, such as income support, child tax credit, and housing benefit etc, will not be affected.
If you are in the position to be able to care for more than one child, such as a sibling group, then this can make a huge difference to your finances as a foster parent. You receive a generous fostering allowance for each child you care for, so caring for more than one child will not only offer you an increase in payments, but a chance to make a difference to more children and potentially keep siblings in care from being separated.
There are certain foster placements that you can provide that will grant you higher fostering payments. If you are looking to learn advanced skills in fostering and take on the challenges of a more complex placement, then you may consider caring for children with a disability, or providing a home for a young parent and their baby. These advanced foster care placements require specific skills and experience but they can be extremely rewarding, with the higher payments reflecting the hard work.
Fostering rewards and offers
A further benefit we offer to our foster parents at Fosterplus, is an exclusive rewards platform that provides a huge number of discounts and offers for family days out, holidays, well known brands and stores, as well as supermarkets and restaurants. It can be a really useful tool for saving money and getting the full benefit of offers when making a home purchase, doing the food shop or treating the family to a fun activity.
In addition to the discounts we offer, we also host regular events and days out for our foster families and their children throughout the year. So, if money is a little tight at times, you can be sure to find a free get-together happening at Fosterplus so your children won’t miss out and you’ll get to spend some quality time with other families who are fostering.
With lots to consider around finances and fostering, we hope that we can be of reassurance to those who are thinking of fostering. Caring for a vulnerable child, and seeing the difference you can make to their life, is rewarding beyond measure.
So, at Fosterplus, we will always strive to provide the best guidance – and financial support – we can to foster parents, so they can afford to continue to change children’s lives.
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