If you ask anyone who works as a foster carer, they will undoubtedly tell you that it is a full-time job, you’re on call 24/7, there when they wake up in the morning, ready when they wake up with a nightmare, sitting up and waiting when a teenager comes home late. In many ways, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of fostering; as a carer, you focus on nurturing and building a young life.
With that in mind, all foster carers are registered as self-employed with HMRC and qualify for several generous tax benefits, which are unique to the fostering system. All foster carers can claim Qualifying Care Relief which is a specific tax scheme designed for foster families. The scheme includes a generous tax threshold of £10,000 per household, and carers can also claim £200 per week for 0–10-year-olds and £250 per week for 11-18-year-olds.
What this means is that there is a high threshold before you are required to pay tax. For example, a family that provides year-round foster care to an 11-18-year-old would qualify for £10,000 Qualifying Care Relief and 52 x £250, which equals £23,000 in earnings before they are required to pay tax and National Insurance. In essence, this means that foster carers are unlikely to pay significant tax on their earnings, and you may also be able to claim additional benefits to support your household.
Alongside this, Affinity Fostering also pay our carers a competitive allowance that recognises the expertise, dedication, and time required to provide a successful fostering placement. The amount varies depending on the age and needs of the child we place in your care and ranges from £399 - £448 per child per week.
The benefits of becoming a self-employed foster carer with Affinity aren’t purely financial though. After working within the fostering system for many years, we understand that foster carers also need regular training, support, and the opportunity to sit down and chat about their experiences. We offer a comprehensive training schedule that provides the Affinity Family members with opportunities to learn and receive specialist fostering related qualifications. In the last year, our diplomas in Play Therapy and Attachment have been extremely popular.
We also work hard to make sure that our carers have the opportunity to stay connected, removing the potential feelings of isolation that can occur when you work for yourself. Our foster carers have regular sit downs and catch ups with their designated social workers, and there is always a qualified Affinity social worker at the end of the phone 24/7. We also hold quarterly support groups where our foster carers come together to share their experiences and learn from each other, when Covid allowed, usually over a nice lunch!
Our 1 – 1 Foster Carer Keeping in Touch Days allow our carers to meet and chat with Affinity’s Senior Management Team, and we also run an annual conference where our foster carers are invited for two days of socialising, training, and evening entertainment.
Affinity believes that being self-employed doesn’t mean that you are on your own, and our dedicated team of support workers and social workers are always on hand to offer guidance and support. Additionally, all our carers receive membership for Foster Talk, a membership organisation which can provide individual support on specific issues like finance and tax, as well as fostering advice, education advice and helplines and a wealth of helpful material.
The important thing to remember is that the decision to become a self-employed foster carer with Affinity Fostering does not mean that you will be on your own, far from it. Instead, you will find yourself at the heart of a fostering family that nurtures you and helps you build and succeed within your new career.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer or have questions about the support you’ll receive or the financial impact on your household, get in touch, and we’ll happily answer all your questions.