Allowances and fees

Help with the cost of fostering

Our foster carer payment levels and how they affect your benefits.

When you foster with us, we pay an allowance every two weeks into your bank or building society account. This is to cover the costs of giving a home to a foster child.

The allowance includes pocket money that you must give to the foster child you’re looking after.

We also help with extra costs, for example:

  • a new bed for the child
  • travel expenses if the child’s school is far from your home

Carer allowances and fees

The government set the minimum rates for foster carer allowances.

Some carers also get an additional fee, which reflects their skill level and time commitment.

The allowance rates for Bristol are above the government minimum rates. Find out about the minimum rates at GOV.UK.

We pay foster carers at three different levels:

  • Level 1: normal weekly allowance based on the child’s age
  • Level 2: normal weekly allowance based on the child’s age, plus an extra £50 fee per child per week
  • Level 3: normal weekly allowance based on the child’s age, plus an extra £166 fee per child per week, and £83 fee per child for four weeks after a placement ends

What our allowance rates are

These rates are for 6 April 2018 onwards:

Child’s age

Level 1 weekly allowance

Level 2 weekly allowance

Level 3 weekly allowance

Pocket money for the child

0 to 4 years

£141.05

£191.05

 £307.05

 £1.88

5 to 10 years

£160.72

£210.72

£326.72

£3.72

11 to 15 years

£199.92

£249.92

£365.92

£5.95

16 to 19 years

£243.25

£293.25

£409.25

£9.46

Foster care and your benefits

The basic allowance you get from us doesn’t affect your benefits. You still need to let your benefits agency know you are fostering for us.

The additional fees we pay Level 2 and Level 3 carers may affect your benefits. You can find more information about how your benefits may be affected on GOV.UK.

Foster care and taxes

The basic allowance we pay you is tax free. This means you keep the full amount we pay. You don’t need to register for self-assessment with the HRMC or declare this allowance to them.

The additional fees we pay Level 2 and Level 3 carers are taxable, but there is a tax exemption.

You can read more information on how foster carer allowances are taxed on GOV.UK.

Extra allowances

We’ll pay you extra allowances for birthdays and holidays.

Birthday

In the payment before the child’s birthday, we’ll include an extra week of allowance. This is to help buy presents and to plan a party.

Christmas and other main religious festivals

In the payment before 25 December, we’ll pay you an extra week of allowance to cover Christmas or any other religious festivals the child might celebrate through the year.

Holidays

We’ll pay you an extra allowance to cover going on holiday.

You’ll get two weeks of allowance, split across six payments throughout the year.

For example, if you’re fostering a child up to 4 years old, your weekly allowance will be £141.05.

You’d get two weeks’ worth of allowance to use to go on holiday, which would be £282.1.

This amount would be paid in six payments. So you’d get paid £47.02, six times a year, on top of your normal allowance.

Carer levels

Level 1

All first time carers start at level 1. At this level you get paid the basic weekly allowance.

If you transfer to us from another fostering agency and you want to start as a Level 2 or 3 carer, you’ll need to give us evidence you meet our criteria.

Level 2

To become a Level 2 carer, you’ll need to:

  • meet our expectations of all foster carers, which we’ll give you a copy of when you join
  • have been fostering for at least six months
  • have completed your Training, Support and Development standards workbook, which you can find on GOV.UK
  • have put together a family profile with information for any children you foster to look at, with the help of your social worker
  • work with your supervising social worker to put together a personal development plan for yourself as a foster carer, and complete the goals you set on it
  • have completed at least two training courses in the last year, not including preparation courses
  • have a positive assessment from your social worker on how well you engage with fostering, such as going to support groups and staying in touch with your social worker
  • have a positive review from your supervising social worker

Once you’re a Level 2 carer, you’ll need to take on emergency placements when a child needs a foster home urgently, as long as:

  • you’re not already fostering the maximum number of children your carer registration allows, which can be up to three children
  • the new placement fits with your family situation at the time

Level 3

Level 3 carers are experienced carers who specialise in a particular type of care, for example fostering disabled children or parents and children.

To be eligible, you’ll need to:

  • have a minimum of two years’ experience of fostering
  • meet our expectations of a Level 3 foster carer
  • have experience of more complex placements
  • have a positive review from your social worker

You can only become a Level 3 carer if there’s a vacancy for one. Ask your social worker for more information.

Specialist foster carer fees

Our specialist foster care schemes and fees are:

Short breaks for disabled children

Payment is in four-hour blocks.

For the first eight hours of care, you’ll get £32.44 in total.

After the first eight hours, you get £10.62 for every four-hour block.

For example, if you care for a child for one day and night, you’ll get a total of £85.54.

You also get mileage at 42p an hour for activities.

These payments are per child.