Did you know that if you train and foster a child, you will receive an allowance? Not many people are aware that there is financial support for foster parents.
But what is a fostering allowance, how much is it and how can it be spent?
What is a fostering allowance?
As a foster carer, you agree to take on the role of guardian to a child or children who, for a variety of reasons, are not able to live with their birth family. It also means that they are unable to live with their extended family too, which is known as kinship care.
Foster care allowances are a means of financial support for foster carers to cover the costs of fostering children in your home. How much you will get will vary depending on;
- The fostering agency package or local authority rates if you foster through a council
- The demands of the foster placement
A fostering allowance will often begin as soon as you take a child into your care.
No one likes talking about money, especially when it is connected with something as important and emotional as caring for a child. With long-term fostering placement, the foster carers will see themselves as the child’s parent and vice versa. But it is important to understand that you are performing an essential function in a child’s life, and receiving financial support is an essential part of the process.
How much financial support will you receive?
The level of financial support for foster carers varies depending on:
- Type of placement – Foster placements vary from short to long-term placements, parent and child fostering arrangements as well as emergency or respite care. Payments also increase when fostering a group of siblings.
- Age of the children you foster – Foster carers who look after older children and teenagers may find they receive more than when fostering babies and toddlers.
- Any challenging needs or specialist requirements – When children or young people have more complex needs, you may receive more in the way of a fostering allowance.
Some agencies and local authorities also offer an annual ‘loyalty’ payment too.
What can you spend the fostering allowance on?
This package of financial support for foster carers takes into account the costs of living with a foster child or young person in your home. It covers essential costs such as food and clothing, basic travel, household bills and other, everyday living expenses.
Some agencies also provide an additional payment around a child’s birthday and at Christmas for presents and other activities. But it is true to say that many of the dedicated foster parents do this as part of the child being ‘part of the family’.
How does a fostering allowance affect tax and other benefits?
Foster carers are classed as self-employed, but the tax relief is generous enough that you will pay little, if any tax or National Insurance contributions, on a fostering allowance.
This allowance is not classed as an income. If you are claiming any kind of benefit, a fostering allowance shouldn’t affect it, but it is always wise to check. You should still be able to claim Universal Benefits and so on.
Not for the money…
For many foster carers, the fostering allowance is not the main consideration when it comes to taking in a child in need of a family. It is about the right environment, full of love and care, so that a child, unable to continue living with their birth family, can thrive.
There is no denying the feel-good factor of nurturing a child to blossom into a well-rounded adult. But being a successful foster carer takes training, commitment and expertise and for that, you should be financially supported.
For more information on becoming a foster parent and the financial support available in Scotland, visit the Foster Care Associates Scotland website today!
*This is a collaborative post*