Emma’s Fostering Blog
A fact -most Foster Carers can’t afford to foster without being paid, they need to provide a warm comfortable home and pay the bills just like anyone else.
When Foster carers complain about the challenges it’s not usually about the money, although we should, less than the minimum wage, it’s usually about the system failing our children. What is not always clear to the public is that we are paid in two parts – payment for the child, which is to cover the cost of their daily living and a payment for the carer for the work they do.
I am self-employed and at times might not have a child in but I have to still be available, but unpaid. I had this exact conversation with my next door neighbour, and in my opinion fostering adverts can be misleading e.g. ‘Foster with us from £300- £700’ Sounds a reasonable amount, but only part of this is your wage and you need to consider that as you will be on call 24/7.
Payments and allowances should be clearly identified and the costs associated with fostering, as this can be far higher than those of a birth child. Some carers rely on benefits or may have a small extra payment for skills. Payments vary according to the child’s age, behaviours and where you live.
Whether you care for teenagers, small child or baby- the biggest part of the payment is for the child. These are Children who have had the worst start in life, let down by people who are supposed to love and protect them. They may have more emotional, behavioural and mental health needs than most children. Bedwetting, soiling or sickness, so higher electric and water bills or challenging behaviours can result in replacing things. Consider Petrol costs for meetings, and visits to see birth family. Summer holidays, outings, Easter, birthdays and Christmas, nappies, toys, clothes, toiletries, clubs, pocket money, savings, food and school dinners.
It’s us at the end of the day that makes it work. ‘Stay as long as you want, no time limit, entirely up to you,’ there is no other work like Fostering. To experience a child that has touched our hearts, like Dan, who was sad, jumpy, scared and withdrawn from the hurt he had endured. We comforted and supported him, in listening, and understanding him and then introducing laughter and just those simple things made him feel safe with us. Dan is very happy, achieving and settled now. The money wasn’t why I came into Fostering – it’s because I love what I do.
My thoughts are fostering ends at 18, the emotional relationship does not! Government funding allocated for ‘Staying Put’ is not sufficient to meet the costs for foster carers; some may not have space to still continue to foster and having less income or managing their needs as an adult.