Traditionally, fostering was seen as something that wealthy people did and for which they did not need or expect any financial support. Today, with a more diverse fostering population, it’s recognised that many foster carers need to receive an allowance in order to be able to foster – they have bills to pay like everyone else. Some foster carers see themselves primarily as substitute parent figures, but others see themselves as ‘professionals’ who have a fostering career. This can be reflected in the type of fostering they do, the fostering service they work for, and the skills, experience and motivation they bring.
Everyone who fosters receives an allowance to cover the cost of caring for a child or young person in their own home. This is meant to cover basics like food, clothes and other costs of caring for the child, recognising that children in care can cost more to care for than other children.
Fee payments can be made on top of allowance to recognise a foster carers’ time, skills and experience. Payments and allowances should be separate and clearly identified so that foster carers know which portion of their fostering income should be spent on caring for the child in their care, and which is for the job they do. Foster carers receiving a fee must register as self-employed.