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What do foster carers earn?

happy family painting


We pay our foster carers competitive rates with added benefits – such as paid holidays – and expenses. Carers can also increase their income via incentives, such as our friend referral scheme.


Foster carers receive a weekly fee plus an allowance, both of which reflect the age of each child in their care. So that, for example, a carer with a 16-year-old foster child will receive £483.87 per week (including allowances). We review our fee levels every two years to ensure they remain competitive.

Weekly fees per child

  • Mainstream fostering:   0 to 10 years:                £200 (+ allowance)
                                          11 to 18 years:              £250 (+ allowance)
  • Child with disabilities, any age:                           £250 (+ allowance)
  • Parent and child placement:                               £250 (+ 2 x allowance) (Depending on complexity,                                                                                 fee may also be doubled)
  • Emergency bed scheme:                                    £250 (when carers are on rota)

Specialist schemes: 

Police and criminal evidence placement (PACE) beds: £250 per week + allowance (when carers are on rota).

Standard, 0 to 18 years: £50 + allowance. (This is for carers at a defined approval level. For example, 0 to 2 years with no complexity/excluding children with certain needs or behaviours).

Our specialist schemes: 

  • £250 PACE beds for weeks when carers on rota (police and criminal evidence placements for children that would otherwise spend the night at the police station)
  • Standard £50 + allowance (0-18 years)

Weekly allowances

We pay the following weekly allowances per child, in addition to the fee. Allowances are intended to cover expenses related to the additional needs of each foster child, such as food, clothes and activities. We increased our allowances in line with inflation in April 2019.

Age of child
0 to 4 years:              £155.05
5 to 10 years:            £176.68
11 to 15 years:          £219.80
16+ years:                 £233.87

• Paid holidays

We offer 28-days paid holiday.


In addition to the fostering allowance and the fostering fee, foster carers in Essex are entitled to claim for a range of expenses to support them in their fostering task. Read more in our expenses guidance for foster carers (PDF, 169KB).

Christmas, birthdays and holidays

An additional week’s allowance per child is paid at Christmas and before their birthday. Up to two weeks’ additional allowance per year may be paid for the child to go on holiday with their foster carers. We will also pay for one school trip abroad during a young person’s secondary education.


Foster carers can claim 45p per additional mile if the child’s school is more than three miles away.  Mileage can also be claimed for many other circumstances, for example travelling to contact, attending training and attending all social care meetings regarding children.

Hourly fee

A fee of £4.50 per hour can be paid to foster carers in a number of circumstances, for example, when they are supporting the service in addition to their fostering work, such as the Ambassadors Scheme or when they are supervising contact.

Specialist schemes

Specialist foster carers that provide fee-paid short breaks for children with disabilities who display challenging behaviour and/or complex medical needs get higher rates. They receive:

  • for five night placements:            £485 per week plus £52 per night
  • for three night placements:         £300 per week plus £52 per night

Once carers are approved to provide these short breaks, they receive their fee even when they do not have a child staying with them. Foster carers who provide short breaks for children with moderate disabilities receive £7.50 per hour for up to 11 hours of daytime care, and £52 for overnight care from 7pm to 7am.

Tax and national insurance

Most foster carers do not pay tax on their fostering payments, and may also be exempt from tax on a proportion of their non-fostering income.

For more information on tax, see the government’s ‘Help with cost of fostering’ web page, or The Fostering Network’s online Tax FAQs


or to talk to our friendly recruitment team call 0800 801 530


“Effective management oversight across Essex ensures that [fostering] services are of a consistently high standard.” Ofsted, January 2019








“We don’t think of him as our foster child. He’s part of us now.” Annette, Essex County Council foster carer since 2016










“The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection are: outstanding.” Ofsted, January 2019











“Clearly it is not easy, looking after any child is not easy. But we’ve had a great experience. It’s so rewarding.” Martin, Essex County Council foster carer since 2019