Each year The Fostering Network surveys local authorities across the UK to get a picture of how much money is being provided to foster carers to cover the cost of looking after a child in foster care.
What are foster care allowances?
All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance from their fostering service when they have a child living with them, which is designed to cover the cost of caring for a child in foster care. This includes food, clothes, toiletries, travel and all other expenses incurred and varies depending on the age of the child. Some foster carers also get a fee for their time, skills and experience however, these reports focus purely on the allowances given to the foster carer to cover the costs of looking after a fostered child.
Each government of the UK sets its national minimum or recommended allowance for foster carers.
|South East England
|Rest of England
Paying in line with the government's NMA is not statutory, nor is it monitored nationally. This results in inequality for children due to the variation in financial support available.
Over a third of foster carers that responded to our State of the Nation 2021 survey said that their allowances do not meet the full cost of looking after a child. This puts additional pressure on fostering households, particularly during the cost of living crisis.
As the number of children entering care continues to rise, it is essential that there are the right number of foster carers with the range of skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the children who need them most.
• Allowances in England, Wales and Scotland vary considerably – with some children receiving up to £198.57 per week less than others which equates to £10,325.64 per year.
• Northern Ireland is the only nation where all trust foster carers (which includes all kinship carers) receive the same rate of allowances to cover the cost of caring for a child in foster care.
• The additional allowances foster carers can claim on top of their weekly amount are inconsistent and complicated – some foster carers can claim over £950 a year to take a young person on holiday, while others have no holiday allowance.
• The absence of a NMA for post-18 arrangements has resulted in even greater variance. In England, for example, some young people receive up to £12,000 less financial support per year to remain living within a foster family.
• In addition, due to inconsistent local policies, some young people in post-18 arrangements are expected to contribute up to £140 per week while others do not have to contribute at all.
The Fostering Network is calling on governments across the UK to:
• Significantly invest in the rates of fostering allowances to ensure they cover the full costs of caring for a child in foster care so they can thrive.
• Increase the upper age limit of the NMA to ensure that young people, while still living in a fostering household in post-18 arrangements, can access stability and support into adulthood.
• Regularly review their NMAs in line with annual inflation and other relevant factors.
• Expect all fostering services to adhere to nationally agreed allowances.
• Work with regulatory bodies for fostering in each nation of the UK to introduce systems to monitor compliance with the NMA, in line with current regulatory requirements, to ensure consistency for children, foster carers and potential future foster carers.
Campaigning for change
The Fostering Network’s The Cost of Fostering campaign is calling on governments across the UK to provide urgent funding to cover the cost of fostering so children and young people do not miss out.
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