Working and fostering
Becoming a foster carer does not have to mean giving up employment. It’s true that foster carers are expected to be available to care for children, support contact between a child and their family and to attend meetings, training and support groups, but depending on your circumstances, you can sometimes foster and continue to work flexible hours; it just may make a difference to the type of fostering that you can do.
Some children, because of their age or needs, will require their foster carer to be at home and available for them all the time. This is likely to be the case for those fostering babies or pre-school children, or children with extremely complex needs or challenging behaviour. However other children, for example those who are school age, may be able to manage if their foster carer works on a part-time basis during school hours. There are many carers within the Brighton & Hove fostering community who manage this successfully.
If you are fostering as a couple, only one of you need be at home, meaning that the other can work full time. Or you may both work part time and fit the needs of the child around your working hours. Ultimately, you would need to demonstrate flexibility and show us that other paid work is not a financial necessity.
Every case is different, and the most important factor is that the needs of the child or children in your care are met. We would look at the type of foster care you hope to be approved for, the number of children in your home, the overall commitments of you as a foster carer and the flexibility of your employment.
It will not be appropriate or desirable for many foster carers to combine fostering with other work, but in other cases it will be, so please do get in touch to discuss your individual circumstances. Many of our carers manage to successfully combine a job with their responsibilities as a foster carer, so you should not let employment prevent you from making the first step in your application.
Read our interview with foster carers Darren and Fiona, who have been working full time and fostering school age children for a year.
Fostering Friendly Employers Scheme
The Fostering Network has introduced a Fostering Friendly employers scheme which enables participating employers to understand and respond to the needs of their foster carer employees. This includes offering foster carers flexible working and paid time off for training and settling a new child into their home. If you are an employer and are interested in joining the scheme, you will need to e-mail email@example.com to find out more and receive the template HR policy.
Fostering Friendly employers within the Brighton & Hove area include Asda, Boots, British Gas, Environment Agency, O2, Sainsbury’s and Tesco
Read more about combining fostering and other work
Read a report on combining fostering and other work, published by The Fostering Network, funded by the Department for Education, and based on a survey of foster carers’ experiences.
How will fostering impact on my welfare benefits?
If you currently claim welfare benefits you are likely to be able to continue to claim while fostering. Foster carers are approved rather than employed, and this status has a particular effect on means tested benefits. In the main, fostering payments when a child is placed with a foster carer are disregarded when calculating welfare benefits, additionally foster carers may be able to claim working tax credit.
Do foster carers pay tax and national insurance?
Foster carers are treated as self-employed for tax purposes. There is a simplified income tax scheme for foster carers, sometimes referred to as ‘foster care relief’; from April 2010 onwards it will be called ‘qualifying care relief’. The scheme uses an income threshold to determine how much tax, if any, is due.
Anyone who is self-employed must register to pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions. Where foster care is the only source of self employed income and taxable profit is low, a foster carer may apply for the Small Earnings Exception. Further information about tax and national insurance is available on HM Review and Customs website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/helpsheets/hs236.pdf
For more advice on fostering, tax and national insurance contact Fosterline on 0800 040 7675 or email firstname.lastname@example.org