Register your interest in becoming a foster carer
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As a foster carer for Dorset Council you receive a skills-level fee for each child you foster, based on your:
- evidenced competencies
You also receive an age-related All-Inclusive Allowance (AIA) for each child you foster. We also pay additional allowances based on your skills level.
We base skills level payment on the evidence you provide to show you've met the criteria needed for that skills level. Your fostering social worker supports you with this. See the foster carer fees and allowances policy for information about the criteria for each skills level.
|Skills level||Weekly fee per looked after child (LAC)|
|Level 1: newly recruited and connected persons||£70|
|Level 2: skilled (also includes connected persons who've completed the training, support and development workbook)||£110|
|Level 3: advanced||£180|
|Level 4: specialist||£340|
All-Inclusive Allowance (AIA)
The AIA is meant to meet all the usual expenses you have when caring for a child in foster care. As a foster carer, you're expected to manage this allowance in line with a 'sensible parenting' approach. This could include saving some of the allowance to put towards other expenses a child needs during the year, for example, holidays or special events. We pay AIA in 4 age bands:
|Age group||Weekly AlA|
|0 to 4 years||£146|
|5 to 10 years||£168|
|11 to 15 years||£208|
|16 to 17 years||£252|
We've calculated the AIA to meet all regular weekly expenses. These expenses include:
- food, school dinner money, nappies, bottles and baby food
- clothing and shoes, including new clothes for school, religious festivals such as Eid, Diwali and party clothes for a prom
- entertainments, hobbies, clubs, recreational activities, organisation clothing, musical and sporting equipment
- playgroup and play scheme fees
- pocket money
- photographs, including school photos
- toys, books, games equipment, reading materials
- treats and outings
- transport, including public transport, to and from local school, attending meetings, supporting contact visits and other activities (this is discussed later)
- school day trips and activities
- family holidays
- contact lenses and glasses
- mobile phone contracts and top-ups
- presents for children's friends
- household costs, including insurance, breakages of minor items in daily use, additional gas and electricity, wear and tear of furniture, carpets, telephone, durable goods, TV, washing machine and others
- babysitters for personal recreational activities
- broadband access
- telephone expenses incurred in maintaining contact with the child's family and phone calls to social workers, advocates and other professionals
- other routine one-off expenses
We pay these additional allowances automatically every year for a child while they're in care (one per year):
|Additional allowances (paid annually)||0 to 4 years||5 to 10 years||11 to 15 years||16 years and above|
|Birthday (for gifts or contribution towards a party or clothing)||£85||£96||£110||£141|
|Christmas or religious festival (towards costs as above)||£85||£96||£110||£141|
|Holiday (contribution towards a holiday or day activities)||£168||£186||£213||£274|
We pay £25 per day or £12.50 per half day for you, as approved foster carers to attend training events that we provide. This is for up to 2 days per year.
We will reimburse you for childcare and mileage for all courses if you need it.
Your own children
We pay a £10 gift to you for each of your own children up to the age of 18 every October. This is to mark Sons and Daughters Month.
We pay a loyalty fee to you as a foster carer for the following milestones:
- £125 for 3 years
- £200 for 5 years
- £275 for 10 years
We pay you £50 for each full Life Book you complete with a child or young person.
Other discretionary payments
We pay you a one-off emergency payment for initial clothing for a newly-placed looked after child, based on need. This is up to £75 for a child between 0 and 10 years and up to £100 for a child over 11. We agree this sum with the Fostering Service manager.
You can apply for a one-off payment for a move to a new school for a looked after child:
- up to £75 for a child at primary school
- up to £120 for a child at secondary school (this is for badged items)
The rest of the costs are included in the AIA. Send your claims go to a Fostering Service manager.
School mileage and school transport
If you transport children to school you will have 12 miles per weekday included in your AIA. This is up to a maximum of 60 miles per week per child, up to a maximum of 120 miles per fostering household.
You can claim the difference if your school mileage is more than this limit. Send your claim to a Fostering Service manager.
Your AIA should cover mileage for any journeys you make for your looked after child, for example:
- LAC appointments
- education meetings
- contact visits
- hospital visits
We may consider some requests for mileage payments for unusually frequent or long journeys of more than 30 miles per week for each child. We look at these journeys as well as any other journeys you routinely make. Send any claims to a Fostering Service manager.
If your child can't access the free Dorset school bus service, you can buy a travel warrant using your AIA. You can claim for travel to school over £20 per child per week. Send any claims to a Fostering Service manager.
Day care (carer to carer)
If you need to attend training or a specific meeting to do with your looked after child and day care has been agreed, another carer can provide this day care. If a Fostering Service manager has agreed, the carer will be paid:
- £7.50 per hour for the first child
- £5 per hour for all additional children
This is up to a maximum of 8 hours.
As a foster carer, you can claim a payment of £100 to cover the costs of:
- supporting introductions in your own home
- local travel to the child's new home
- providing refreshments
We recognise the intensity and importance of making sure the child's move is successful.
Dorset Council will cover the cost of any other accommodation if you need to travel and stay in the new area.
Grants for vocational courses or training
The funding for vocational courses or training is included in your AIA. If the costs are very high, you can request a contribution towards them. Your Fostering Manager will consider these requests.
Retainers and other absences
|Circumstances||Length of absence||AIA paid||Skills fee|
|Child is in hospital (carer should continue to visit and be the key person for the child)||Up to 2 weeks (14 nights)||50%||100%|
|Child in hospital||Over 4 nights||none||100%|
|School trips or other trips, for example, Scouts, Guides or other clubs||Up to 14 nights||50%||100%|
|Trips||Over 14 nights||none||none|
Shared care with parents, grandparents
|Up to 3 nights paid to both carers||100%||100%|
|Over 4 and up to 14 nights the main carer receives:||none||50%|
|Shared care||Over 14 nights||none||none|
|Carer illness, operation or family bereavement; child moves to respite care, but must return to the placement||Up to 3 nights paid to both carers||100%||100%|
|Carer illness||Over 4 and up to 14 nights||none||100%|
|Carer illness||Over 14 nights||none||negotiable case by case|
|Carer's break (this needs the Fostering Manager's approval)||Up to 2 weeks||100%||100%|
Table showing retainer payments:
|Circumstances||Length of absence||AIA paid||Skills fee|
|Home on trial||Up to 2 weeks (14 nights) assuming carers are still available to foster the same child||none||50%|
|Reserving a placement before starting||To secure planned moves for permanency (for court purposes)||none||50%|
|Carer suspended over allegation or standards of care||Paid for a maximum of 13 weeks during ongoing investigation||none||100%
(paid one skill fee only) paid up to 13 weeks then reviewed if the allegation hasn't concluded.
Working as a foster carer
As a foster carer you're self-employed. This means you're responsible for your own tax and National Insurance payments. You can't claim Child Benefit or Child Tax Credits.
We enrol all our foster carers with FosterTalk. FosterTalk can provide information and advice for everything to do with fostering, including financial advice.