Can Fostering Be a Career?

One of the most common questions we get asked at Olive Branch Fostering is whether caring is a viable career. You’ll be pleased to know the answer is yes!

Fostering allows plenty of scope for progression and personal development, because there’s a wealth of training courses to explore. Plus, you’ll receive a competitive allowance that pays a wage and covers additional living expenses.

By choosing a fostering career, you’ll offer life-changing support to vulnerable children. It’s a gratifying vocation that has a tangible impact – your work genuinely makes a difference.

If you’re curious about this path, keep reading as we answer your most pressing questions, including:

  • Can you make a living from fostering?
  • How much does a foster carer get paid?
  • Can you foster and have a full-time job?
  • What are the benefits of fostering as a career?

Can you make a living from fostering?

Of course, people foster because they care about the physical and emotional wellbeing of children. However, it’s perfectly normal to wonder about pay and whether you can make a living through this kind of work.

Foster carers receive a weekly allowance to cover costs including food, clothes, travel and other expenses, with some agencies and local authorities paying ongoing retainers between placements. Additionally, you might be eligible for fee payments – one-off sums that recognise your experience and time invested.

At Olive Branch Fostering, we give carers a yearly raise to reflect their effort and dedication. Once the amount goes up, it never goes down, giving you financial security and peace of mind.

Keep in mind that all foster carers are self-employed in the UK, so you’ll have to complete a self-assessment and pay tax. However, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) introduced Qualifying Care Relief, which grants carers a tax-free amount to be deducted from their total fostering payments.

What’s more, you may be entitled to certain benefits, including Working Tax Credit.

How much does a foster carer get paid?

Allowances vary from private agency to local authority, with some paying more than others. According to the UK government website, the minimum amount is usually between £134 and £235 a week – but we believe in rewarding our carers fairly. That’s why our allowances start from £321 a week, rising yearly based on expertise.

Several factors affect pay, including where you live, your foster child’s age and if they have any special needs. For example, therapeutic foster carers with advanced training can receive up to £575 per week. The increase recognises the skills and knowledge you need to take on this type of placement, alongside supplementing medical and educational costs.

Can you foster and have a full-time job?

It’s often possible to work while fostering, depending on the age of your placement child. If your foster children are in full-time education, you may be able to have a career outside of caring.

With that said, foster carers must be available 24/7 to provide comprehensive support, whether that’s taking children to doctor’s appointments, therapy groups or meetings with their birth family.

Usually, agencies and local authorities prefer carers not to send young children to minders or childcare facilities because it’s disruptive to their routine, though they allow the use of after school clubs for older children and teenagers.

If you’d like to foster a child with special needs, you should consider the time commitment before applying. It’s just not possible to have another job when looking after children with severe disabilities, trauma or development delays as they often need one-to-one, round the clock assistance.

Ultimately, every case is different. The key deciding factor is whether you can meet the needs of a foster child, however challenging, alongside a part-time or full-time position.

What are the benefits of choosing fostering as a career?

There’s a multitude of benefits when you choose fostering as a career. Not only will you be changing a young person’s life for the better by offering them an environment in which they can thrive, but you’ll expand your personal and professional horizons.

Rewarding

There’s nothing more rewarding and heart-warming than making a positive difference in a child’s life. Many foster children come from toxic homes and some may have suffered from abuse. Most haven’t had a childhood because they’ve been forced to grow up too quickly. Consequently, foster children initially struggle to trust others and build healthy, nourishing relationships.

Your role as a carer is to turn this around through unconditional love, patience and encouragement. Day by day, with expert guidance, you’ll help your foster child manage their struggles and difficulties. Together, you’ll create a brighter future brimming with opportunities they may not have otherwise had.

Self-development

Besides helping children, fostering facilitates self-development for carers. Along the way, you’ll tap into strength, compassion and resilience that you didn’t even realise you had. In fact, foster carers often report increased levels of awareness, especially when looking after placement children from different backgrounds to their own.

Fostering gives you the chance to learn something new. You’ll develop your own unique caregiving style, understand how to address the needs of individuals effectively and gain valuable therapeutic tools. Everything you pick up can then be used to improve your communication and problem-solving abilities.

Training courses

When you become a foster carer, there are hundreds of training courses at your fingertips, to ensure you have the latest skills and are aware of best practices.

Some are mandatory, covering the basics about health and safety, whereas others provide extensive information about caring for children with complex and specialist needs. Supplementary training might address topics like domestic abuse, sexual exploitation and long-term neglect.

Are you ready to start your fostering journey?

Fostering is a life-affirming and valuable career path that makes a tangible difference in children’s and carer’s lives. Alongside earning a liveable wage, you will broaden your skill set and capacity for compassion, patience and understanding.

To begin your fostering journey, contact our friendly team online or call us on 01706 558910. We’re always happy to talk through your queries and provide more information – you don’t have to go any further, but we’ll help you every step of the way if you do decide to move forward.