At Alpha Plus we understand that fostering is a huge commitment to make for your family and it may mean you leaving full time employment to enable you to give the time needed to support the child placed with you. This is why we pay generous weekly allowances, to help you with the usual expenses of caring for a child and also in the way of an income to compensate for your hard work and dedication in providing a child with a stable family environment.
How much is the fostering allowance and what is it for?
We pay a generous weekly allowance to reflect how much we value our carers and the children they care for. We believe it is important for the children to have a good quality of life and wherever possible the same opportunities and experiences as other children in your family.
As well as including a professional fee for you, the allowance is intended to cover all the needs of the children in your care including food, clothing, travel, hobbies and sports, family activities, savings and more. We will provide guidance on how you can best spend the money so that a child has a healthy, happy and balanced life but we also want you to have the freedom to use the money to support that child in joining in with your normal family life. We therefore won’t dictate to you about what you spend for birthdays, Christmas and holidays as we know that your family will have their own priorities. We want you to be able to treat a looked after child the same as you would your own children.
The minimum weekly fees payable are:
Single placement £400.78 per week
Sibling placement £365.73 per week/per child
Mother and baby £597.62 per week
These fees are reviewed annually. The fees may differ for an experienced transferring carer.
It is important to note, this amount is only paid when you have a child in your care, not when you are between placements. We are unable to guarantee a placement at all times so there may be gaps when you do not have a child living with your and therefore times when no allowance is payable.
Self Employment and other benefits
Once you are approved you will be given a starter pack with advice on how to go about registering as self employed. You can also gain further support and advice from The Fostering Network. As an approved carer with Alpha Plus you will be entitled to free membership with them and you can visit their website at www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk
As a Foster carer you will be approved rather than employed by us, and this status has a particular effect on means-tested benefits. In the main fostering allowances, when a child is placed with a foster carer, are disregarded when calculating welfare benefits. Alternatively, foster carers may be able to claim Working Tax Credit because fostering is regarded as ‘work’ by HMRC when they have a child in placement. You will need to contact your local benefits office and relevant agencies to discuss your individual circumstances.
Will I be taxed on the allowance?
In general foster carers are exempt from paying tax on the fostering allowance. The exception to this rule would be if you have a number of children living in your care or additional paid employment that would then give you a financial income above the current government guidelines.
To find out more about fostering finances you can visit www.gov.uk or call the newly self employed helpline on 0300 200 3500
A fostering allowance example
If you have one child in placement for 52 weeks of the year you will receive a minimum of £20,840 total per year
If you have 2 siblings in placement for 52 weeks of the year, as an example you will receive a minimum £38,035 Total per year
It is also worth noting that higher allowances may be payable to ensure the cost of any additional needs a child might have will be accounted for. For example, autism, disability or specialist behaviours.