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.