Can I work and be a foster carer?

If you are in work, whether this is self-employed or through employment, the area to look at here is if you would have the time to support a child or young person through becoming a foster carer. The well-being and positive outcomes are the most important for the child and young person. You need that time with them to provide support and engagement, have fun together, and help with education. The same would be important also for your birth children (where relevant).

Your working arrangements and time may depend on whether you are a single carer or looking to apply jointly with your partner. If you are a single carer and working, you would need to explore the flexibility you have with your employer or if self-employed, how you can manage your time. If for example, you reduced your working time to have more time for fostering, how would this impact on your level of household income. When you do have a child or young person placed with you, you receive your foster carer payment, and this would help offset any loss of earnings. If you are joint applicants, one person may be able to reduce hours or not work and the other partner works full time or part time.

Your foster carer payment can be up to £750 per week for supporting enhanced or complex children or young persons. If you have a larger property, you may have the space for sibling groups providing an overall higher carer payment. For all placement types, the matching and being able to support the children and young persons is most important. From your foster carer payment, you do need to cover the children’s allowances for their food costs, clothing, personal items, pocket money, hobbies and other support costs. It is the reward element that you retain and go toward replacing any lost or reduced work income.

There are practical considerations to take into account. This can be when you may finish work to help with the young person’s school run or transport. There is also other time needed for fostering appointment or planned contact visits. You also have your health and time; you want to be able to look after yourself also to provide downtime.

If you do reduce working hours or stop working, you should also look at other areas such as your pension planning, mortgage affordability or lending levels (based on your work income and fostering income) and also any link with benefits income. We also recommend and ask that you discuss becoming a foster carer with your employer (where relevant). There are references with your current employer and previous employers.

Many people do consider fostering as a career as an alternative to employment. You do however want to be motivated by positive outcomes for children and caring for them, not only on the financial aspects. You should look at your financial position if you did have a break between placements or period without any income.

When developing your fostering experience, you receive specialist training to help you personally and for the support to children and young persons.

Please contact us to learn more about working and fostering. We can talk through your specific work arrangements and future plans.