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What you can earn

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We pay our foster carers extremely competitive rates with plenty of added benefits. How much you earn depends on the type of care you provide and the age of the child in your care 

On average, our foster carers earn £526.34 per week. This works out to a total income of £27,369.68 per year. Some foster carers earn up to £1,362.72 per week, which is £70,861.44 per year. You earn more for fostering older children and children with complex needs or disabilities.  

The total amount you earn is calculated by adding your fee and the allowance for the child. You will receive a fee based upon the type of fostering you do and the age of the children you care for. An allowance of up to £272.72 depending on the age of the child is paid weekly for the child’s food and clothes. We also offer many professional benefits to foster carers, including: 

  • 28 days of paid holiday each year 
  • bonuses to help towards birthday and Christmas presents 
  • expenses for travel relating to your fostering role, specialist equipment
  • access to mental health support and counselling from clinical psychologist
  • access to free training courses in a wide range of subjects 
  • access to an Oasis Network, support groups and foster care networks. 

Most foster carers don't pay tax on their fostering income and may also be exempt from tax on some of their non-fostering income. 

Foster carers continue to be paid for four weeks after a child has left their care.

 

Kerry went into foster care when she was a teenager, her foster carers made her believe that she could achieve and now she has accomplished everything she wanted in life.  

We're pleased to say children's allowances are increasing from Monday 1 April 2024. Essex County Council allowances remain well above the minimum recommendations set by central government, the Department for Education (DFE). 

From Monday 1 April 2024, Essex County Council's allowances will be as below:

  • £188.37 for children aged 0 - 2 years
    • this is £23.37 more than DFE's recommended minimum
  • £188.37 for children aged 3 - 4 years
    • this is £18.37 more than DFE's recommended minimum
  • £214.69 for children aged 5 - 10 years
    • this is £27.69 more than DFE's recommended minimum
  • £267.12 for children aged 11 - 15 years
    • this is £54.12 more than DFE's recommended minimum
  • £284.20 for children aged 16+ years
    • this is £35.20 more than DFE's recommended minimum

Fees

Short-term and permanent fostering 

Most full-time foster carers are open to both short-term and permanent fostering. This means they look after a child for as long as required. 

For short-term and permanent fostering of a child, you can earn: 

  • £220 (+ allowance) per week for a child aged 0-10 years 
  • £270 (+ allowance) per week for a child aged 0-10 with complex needs, such as medicaor mental health issues or behavioural difficulties 
  • £270 (+allowance) per week for a child aged 11-18 years 
  • £380 (+allowance) per week for a child of any age who: 
    • can’t be placed with other children
    • has had multiple unsuccessful placements
    • requires their foster carer to be available during school hours 
    • is leaving residential care 
    • has a diagnosed disability but is not allocated within our Children with Disabilities (CWD) team. 

Respite care 

Respite care is when you look after a child for just a few days or weeks at a time. For part-time respite care, you earn the wage and allowance for a child on a pro rata basis. You get paid for the time a child is in your care. 

Fostering a child with disabilities 

You can earn more for fostering a child with disabilities. For short-term or permanent fostering of a disabled child, you can earn: 

  • £550 (+ allowance) per week for child of any age with diagnosed disabilities and is receiving support from our CWD team 
  • £1,090 (+ allowance) per week for a child of any age with diagnosed disabilities and who requires a high level of two-parent care or through-the-night care.

Fee-paid short breaks for children with disabilities 

Short breaks is a type of specialist fostering. You look after child with complex disabilities to give birth families or foster carers a break from their full-time caring role.

Once you are approved to provide fee-paid short breaks, you receive your fee even when you do not have a child staying with you. This gives time to make sure you are matched with a suitable child.

As a short breaks foster carer, you care for a small number of children with disabilities throughout the year. You can choose to provide three or five nights of care per weekYou earn a flat rate as well as an overnight fee. You can earn:

  • £550 + the overnight rate of £100 for a 5-nights short break up to £1050 per week 
  • £330 + the overnight rate of £100 for a 3-nights short break up to £630 per week 

Respite care for children with disabilities 

You don’t need to commit lots of time to enhance a child with disabilities' life. You can provide respite care from as little as one weekend per month. You can earn: 

  • £12.91 per hour in the day plus £100 overnight rate  

Emergency Bed Scheme and PACE (the Police and Criminal Evidence Act) Scheme 

You can join the rota for the Emergency Bed and PACE Scheme which is where you provide care for a child or young person out of hours, supporting them in an emergency or to prevent them remaining in police custody. 

You can earn: 

  • £250 + allowance (when a child is placed) for a PACE Bed Scheme placement
  • £350 + allowance (when a child is placed) for supporting a child or young person in an emergency

Parent and child fostering 

You can also earn more for offering your home to a parent and child. If you do this, you earn £550 per week plus two allowances.

Allowances 

We pay you a weekly allowance for each child based on their age, in addition to the weekly fee. The allowance is intended to pay for things like food, clothes and activities for your foster child. These will be valid until Monday 1 April, when they will be increased.

  • £180.81 for children aged 0-4 years 
  • £206.01 for children aged 5-10 years 
  • £256.34 for children aged 11-15 years 
  • £272.72 for children aged 16+ 

Expenses

In addition to fees and allowances, foster carers can claim expenses for: 

  • travel for meetings about the child 
  • out of catchment school mileage 
  • fostering training and events mileage 
  • any specialist equipment the child needs.  

Tax and national insurance

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

For more detailed information about what you can earn, read our Fees and Allowances guide.

For more information on tax, see the government’s Help with cost of fostering section or The Fostering Network’s Tax FAQs. 

Learn more about which type of fostering might be right for you. 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerry went into foster care when she was a teenager, her foster carers made her believe that she could achieve and now she has accomplished everything she wanted in life.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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