If you are thinking about becoming a foster carer, you might be wondering about the financial aspects of this rewarding role. Although fostering is first and foremost about providing vulnerable children and young people with safe and stable living environments, it’s also crucial to ensure that foster carers can make a living while doing so. In this post, we’ll explore some tips and strategies to maximise your income as a foster carer in the UK.
Understanding Foster Care Payments and Allowances
Firstly, it’s crucial to understand the payments and allowances that foster carers in the UK are eligible for. Foster carers receive a weekly allowance that is designed to cover the costs of caring for the child. This is designed to provide money for the essentials such as food, clothing, and transport. The amount you will get varies depending on the age of the child and the type of fostering you are doing.
Along with the basic allowance, foster carers may be eligible for other payments such as a skills payment, which recognises the skills and experience certain foster carers bring to the role. You may also be able to get additional payments if you are caring for certain children in foster care, such as additional support for a child with a disability.
Working with an Independent Fostering Agency
Working with an independent fostering agency is one of the best ways to maximise your fostering allowance as a foster carer. Agencies often offer higher rates of pay compared to local authorities, along with providing additional training and support for foster carers. Although there may be certain criteria you’ll need to meet to work with an independent agency, such as having a spare room in your home and completing extensive training, it can be a worthwhile option to consider.
Taking Advantage of Tax Benefits
Foster carers in the UK are eligible for certain tax benefits such as the qualifying care relief scheme. This scheme allows foster carers to receive a tax-free allowance of up to £18,140 per year along with their fostering allowance. Depending on their individual circumstances, foster carers may also be eligible for various benefits such as tax credits.
Investing in Training and Development
Investing in your own training and development can be another ideal way to maximise your income as a foster carer. Becoming a more skilled, experienced foster carer can lead to higher allowance rates and more opportunities for placements. Both independent fostering agencies and local authorities offer a range of training programmes designed to help foster carers upskill, along with a range of ongoing development opportunities and long-term support for those who are interested. With the right skills, you will also have access to forms of fostering that tend to come with higher allowances, such as caring for children with specific needs or disabilities or respite care.
Maximising your income as a foster carer allows you to spend more time caring for the child and less time earning money in other ways. While the child is always the main priority, ensuring that you make a comfortable living is also crucial.