Register your interest in becoming a foster carer

We're interested in hearing from people from all walks of life, so don't rule yourself out.

As a foster carer for Dorset Council you receive a skills-level fee for each child you foster, based on your:

  • knowledge
  • experience
  • 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

Fostering payments

Skills level fees

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.

Table showing skills level fees and weekly fee
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:

All-Inclusive Allowance age group and payments
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
  • hairdressing
  • 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

Additional allowances

We pay these additional allowances automatically every year for a child while they're in care (one per year):

Additional allowances table
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. 

Loyalty fee

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 

Life Books

We pay you £50 for each full Life Book you complete with a child or young person. 

Other discretionary payments

Initial clothing

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.

School uniform

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. 

Other mileage

Your AIA should cover mileage for any journeys you make for your looked after child, for example:

  • LAC appointments
  • reviews
  • 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.

Public transport

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. 

Introduction costs

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

Retainers and other absences table
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
carer to carer; respite if it's part of the child's care plan

Up to 3 nights paid to both carers 100% 100%

Shared care

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:

Table to show circumstances with retainers
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.

Foster care policy and purpose

Find out about our foster care policy and purpose.

Why foster for Dorset

Find out more about how we support you as a foster carer, the learning and development we provide and our fostering statement of purpose

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