Types of fostering – Part Two

Making a long term commitment to a vulnerable young person in need of a safe, secure and nurturing home can be one of the most rewarding choices a prospect foster carer can make.

At Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland we’ve noticed a popular perception of foster caring in the media and on television is that it involves a long term placement of many years.

There are many different types of foster placement that can be arranged and depending on the needs, motivations and future plans of the foster carer, long term caring might be an option.

Fostering a child to adulthood is a significant undertaking for anyone and it needs to be a decision that works for the whole family. It also needs to be a choice that you as a foster carer can sustain in the long term as the children who you foster need to know you will be with them no matter what.

Many children who require foster care have had the experience of being abandoned by parents or carers at an early age. As a result many fear that this might happen again and need carers who are committed for the long term.

Without support, this can be an overwhelming proposition for any foster carer, but at Kindercare Fostering NI, we take your needs as seriously as those of the foster placement.

At Kindercare Fostering NI we provide initial and ongoing training, a mentoring programme and regular contact with our trained workers. There is also a generous weekly allowance for each foster placement you accept.

If you think you have the time, energy and patience to offer a young person in need of stability and security a home, Alliance Fostering would like to hear from you.

If you are considering becoming a foster parent and would like to work with Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 02890 941 690

Types of fostering – Part One

At Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland we know that exploring fostering for the first time can be complex, most people have little prior knowledge of the fostering process.

Understanding the different types of foster care is important for prospective carers, so they can make informed decisions about the type of care they can offer so the team at Kindercare Northern Ireland have put together a series of blogs to help you

Some carers specialise in having short term foster placements. The length of these placements can last from a couple of days to a maximum of two years and are for children and young people who might return to their birth families.

Long term placements are for children and young people who are very unlikely to return to their birth families.

Younger children in these placements are often placed for adoption but older children are better suited to long term foster care until they reach adulthood.

Long term foster care involves a considerable commitment to the child, who will become part of your family.

A much shorter arrangement than either of these options is bridging care. A bridging carer will look after a child while long term foster parents or adoptive parents are sought.

Two other types of fostering, emergency placement fostering and respite fostering are both short term and short notice.

As an emergency carer, a young person in crisis, in need of a safe place away from the family home might be placed with you.

Respite fostering happens when a birth family is experiencing difficulties and a child is placed temporarily with carers to give all family members a break from the strains they are experiencing.

At the Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland we know that there are as many different types of carer as there are children in need of care, so we encourage you to explore the options that are available.

The care you offer needs to match the life you lead, foster care can be flexible for both you and the child you care for.

If you are considering becoming a foster parent and would like to work with Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 02890 941 690

Finance and fostering – How we support our carers financially

For most carers, the desire to contribute to the life of a young person who need support, nurturing and understanding is their prime motivation.

Placing a child’s needs first and making the home a safe, caring space where they can be themselves is the most rewarding experience that foster caring can offer.

However, Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland also makes sure its carers are well paid for the work they do; for some families fostering makes both emotional and financial sense.

At Kindercare we provide guidance on what you will need to spend your allowance on to give your foster placement the best chance of a balanced life.

Because we not only value the foster child in your care, but we also value your time, expertise, patience and compassion, the allowance can help you with your own household finances.

The role of a foster carer doesn’t come with a salary, but it is still an important, full time job and the funding reflects the time and commitment carers give. In addition to the allowance, there are tax exemptions available for carers. The government has set a threshold for foster carers on lower incomes and many pay no income tax on their allowance.

Some carers with multiple placements might find their income is above the tax exemption, but this is normally the exception to the rule.

The government views foster carers as self-employed; this means that if you are liable for tax, you will have to complete a self-assessment form. It does not necessarily disqualify you from tax credits and other forms of benefits as these will be calculated alongside your annual income.

At Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland, we truly believe that fostering can work for both you and your foster placement and whilst it is personally rewarding in countless ways, it also pays financially too.

If you are considering becoming a foster parent and would like to work with Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 02890 941 690

The Benefits of the Fostering Mentor

Fostering is, without question, one of the most challenging, rewarding and transforming things a person, couple or family can do.

At Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland, we understand that inviting a vulnerable and often neglected child or teenager into your home, learning to see the person behind the behaviour and making a real difference to their life isn’t something anyone enters into lightly.

Some of the most successful foster caring matches that have happened in recent years have been the product of intense support for the foster carers.

Most agencies involved in fostering agree that the higher the degree of support a carer can receive, the better the outcome will be for both carer and foster child.

If you are considering fostering, it is important to use an agency or service that will give you access to a fostering mentor.

Most mentors are foster carers or former carers themselves and they will understand exactly the challenges you face because they will have experienced them directly themselves.

Accessing support from a fostering mentor means having a person who will listen to you in a non judgemental way and allow you to discuss any difficulties you might have.

Often, having someone to listen is enough, but mentors can give practical advice based on many years of experience about what approaches work and what doesn’t.

The benefit of a mentor is often that they can see a situation with a fresh pair of eyes and put themselves in your shoes or the person you are caring for.

Often, if you are dealing with difficult or challenging behaviour, it is hard to take a step back and assess what is really going on. This is where a mentor is invaluable.

If you are considering becoming a foster parent and would like to work with Kindercare Fostering Northern Ireland, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 02890 941 690

Tax allowance and tax relief

Everyone in the UK receives a tax-free income allowance, currently this amount is £10,000.

On top of this personal allowance, foster carers are provided with a ‘qualifying care relief’ that can considerably raise the ‘qualifying amount’ of fostering allowance on which you are exempt from paying tax.

The qualifying amount will depend on a number of factors including how many children you have fostered or are currently fostering, the age of the foster children, and how long you were looking after them during that tax year.

Understanding foster care allowances, and carrying out a Self Assessment as a foster carer can be tricky, but as with all aspects of foster caring there is always plenty of support on hand for you.As an NFA carer you will have 24 hour access to professional advice on carer allowances and tax allowances . Alternatively HMRC will also be able to answer your questions about tax allowances, tax relief and Self Assessment; you can find out how to contact them on their website.

Do Foster Care Payments Count as Income?

When fostering a child, foster carers receive many different forms of support to help them take care of the children to the best of their ability.

This includes financial support in the form of a fostering allowance that is paid weekly, and can vary according to different factors including the age and needs of the child, the number of children fostered, and the individual private fostering agency or local authority that the foster carer belongs to.

The purpose of a fostering allowance is to cover the costs of caring for foster children, from buying food and clothing to transporting them to school and entertaining them, and yes, the allowance is legally regarded as a form of income. When you register as a new foster carer you must also register with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as ‘self-employed’, and start keeping records of the children you foster, their ages and the dates that you began and ceased looking after them.

You will also have to complete a Self Assessment tax return each year to declare all of your income from fostering allowance. All self-employed people are registered for Class 2 National Insurance contributions, but don’t worry, as foster carers receive a tax allowance and additional tax relief which can mean you pay little tax on your foster care payments, or even none at all. It’s also important to remember that foster care payments will also not affect any social security benefits you currently receive.