Training and financial support for foster/kinship foster carers

A variety of practical and financial support will be made available to you if you become a foster/kinship foster carer. This includes an allowance to cover costs, tax relief and help getting a State Pension.

Support and training

All foster/kinship foster carers are reviewed every year. All foster/kinship foster carers are provided with training to help them continue to offer the care and support needed by the children they are caring for. In addition they will have regular contact and visits from their own supervising social worker as well as the child's social worker who can offer advice and support.

Other support provided to Health and Social Care (HSC) foster/kinship foster carers:

  • access to 24 hour fostering social work support
  • support groups – many foster carers meet together in a support group with the help of their supervising social worker
  • short breaks (previously called respite) – Trusts can provide foster carers/children in foster care with short breaks when needed and when this is in keeping with the child's needs
  • access to additional support including education support, specialist social work support and psychological support

Support and training is also available through the Fostering Achievement Initiative. This gives foster/kinship foster carers help with the educational needs of the children they are caring for. This includes credits to provide equipment and tuition for children and to help develop the carer's own knowledge and skills.

Support for HSC Foster Carers outside normal office hours

Outside office hours,  HSC foster carers across NI have access to the Regional Emergency Social Work Service.

Their telephone number is 028 9504 9999

Do foster/kinship foster carers get paid?

All foster/kinship carers get an allowance to cover the cost of caring for a child in their home. Some foster carers also receive a fee in recognition of their specific knowledge and skills.

Financial support is also available to people who continue to support young people aged 18-21 years who are in education, training, employment or other initiatives.

Foster Care Allowances

From 1 April 2016

Age group Per week Per four weeks
0 to 4 £122.72 £490.88
5 to 10 £135.60 £542.40
11 to 15 £156.09 £624.36
16 plus £180.81 £723.24

These allowances include provision for food (including school meals), household costs (heating, electricity, general wear and tear), clothing and footwear, pocket money and travel costs. These figures could change.

Foster/kinship foster carers are free to spend the allowance on food, household and travel expenses as they feel benefit the child most. In addition, carers receive additional payments for other essential items for birthdays and Christmas.

Do foster/kinship foster carers pay Income Tax?

Many foster/kinship foster carers now pay no tax on the money they receive from fostering. Foster/kinship foster carers can be free from tax on all or most of their fostering  allowance depending on:

  • how many children they look after
  • whether it is a full tax year
  • whether there are other foster/kinship foster carers in the same household

There is a fixed tax exemption of up to £10,000 per year (less if for a shorter period) which is shared equally among any foster/kinship foster carers in the same household, such as a grandparent or sibling.  After that, foster/kinship foster carers get tax relief for every week (or part week) that a child is in their care.

For every week (or part week) that a child aged 11 or older is with them, the foster carer's tax relief is £250 per child. For every week (or part week) that a child aged under 11 is in their care, the tax relief is £200 per child.

Do foster/kinship foster carers get a pension?

To find out if you qualify for National Insurance credits and for the latest information, you should follow the link below to the GOV.UK website

Please note that for a person reaching state pension age from 6 April 2016, the new State Pension will replace the basic State Pension and additional State Pension.

Further information about state pensions can be found by clicking on the link below.

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