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 £483 per week. This works out to a total income of £25,116 per year. Some foster carers earn up to £1,000 per week, which is £52,000 per year. You earn more for fostering older children and children with complex needs or disabilities.
On top of your fee, you get a weekly allowance of up to £236.95 for the child’s food and clothes. We 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
- access to mental health support and counselling from clinical psychologists
- access to free training courses in a wide range of subjects
- access to 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.
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:
- £200 per week for a child aged 0-10 years
- £250 per week for a child aged 0-10 with complex needs, such as medical or mental health issues or behavioural difficulties
- £250 per week for a child aged 11-18 years
- £350 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 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:
- £500 per week for a child of any age with diagnosed disabilities and is receiving support from our CWD team
- £1,000 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 week. You earn a flat rate as well as an overnight fee. You can earn:
- £500 + the overnight rate of £90 for a 5-nights short break up to £950 per week
- £300 + the overnight rate of £90 for a 3-nights short break up to £570 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 £90 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 people out of hours from our Emergency Duty Service or to prevent them remaining in police custody.
You can earn:
- A flat rate of £250 for a PACE Bed Scheme placement
- A flat rate of £250 for an Emergency Bed Scheme placement
Parent and child fostering
You can also earn more for offering your home to a parent and child. If you do this, you earn £250 per week plus two 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.
- £157.08 for children aged 0-4 years
- £178.99 for children aged 5-10 years
- £222.67 for children aged 11-15 years
- £236.95 for children aged 16+
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 document (PDF, 213KB).
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, 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