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Hertfordshire County Council

INTRODUCTION

This document outlines the scheme of allowances and payments to foster carers for

Hertfordshire County Council Children’s Services. A “foster carer” is a person approved as a foster carer or family & friends’ carer, referred to as a connected person in the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations and Guidance 2010 (revised 2015), by Hertfordshire County Council Fostering Panel. The payments are reviewed annually each April.

The document does not cover the situation where any carer subsequently obtains an Adoption, Child Arrangement or Special Guardianship Order. If such Orders are made, the fostering allowance ceases to apply and the respective allowance policy should be referred to;

  • All payments to foster carers are processed by the Fostering/Adoption Team responsible for the supervision and support of the foster carer.
  • The Fostering Service aims to ensure that foster carers receive their payment without delay and that exceptional claims are treated fairly.
  • Foster carers should speak to their Supervising Social Worker about any payment request or query.
  • Foster Carers should not ask the child’s Social Worker about payments as this may cause confusion and delay in payment.
  • Where a foster carer’s request for payment relates to a child’s needs the Supervising Social Worker will liaise with the child’s Social Worker about whether the payment is appropriate.

This document covers all payments that are directly made to foster carers. Any other expenditure for a looked after children, which is not a foster carer payment, remains the responsibility of the child’s Social Worker. If the child’s allocated worker is unsure of where the responsibility lies for a placement cost, they should consult the Fostering Service.

Foster carers are required to use FN024C ‘Expenditure - Monitoring & Audit Sheet’ to demonstrate how the allowance has been used and what items of clothing or alternative items have been purchased. Pocket money, birthday and festival allowance should also be recorded on this form. This is required for audit purposes and to ensure that children and young people have received their full entitlement for each financial year and particularly when they move between placements.

Foster carers are reminded that it is their responsibility to retain their remittance advice and receipts for tax purposes if required by HMRC, although the Qualifying Care Relief Scheme (see below) should mean that is not normally required.

LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013

(National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services 2011)

Fostering Services Regulations 2011

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations and Guidance 2010 (revised 2015)

Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers, Regulations and Guidance 2010

(revised 2015) – Staying Put section

Fostering Regulations 2013

Children Act 1989 and 2004

Children and Families Act 2014

Children and Social Work Act 2017

PURPOSE

To outline the criteria and process for the payment structure for foster carers approved by Hertfordshire County Council

KEY PRINCIPLES:

  • To provide clarity of the criteria and process for the payment structure for approved foster carers
  • To provide clarity to all relevant parties about the role and responsibilities for each level of foster carer
  • To ensure fairness and transparency when determining and reviewing levels
  • Carers must meet all the expectations and skills required of them at application or review before consideration for progression to another level


THIS DOCUMENT IS SUBJECT TO AN ANNUAL REVIEW, ALTHOUGH SPECIFIC SECTIONS MAY BE SUBECT TO REVIEW AT ANY TIME.

PLEASE CONTACT THE FOSTERING SERVICE FOR FURTHER

CLARIFICATION ON ANY ASPECTS OF THE DOCUMENT ON 0800 917 0925.

IF YOU ARE ALREADY A REGISTERED FOSTER CARER FOR HERTFORDSHIRE PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SUPERVISING SOCIAL WORKER.

PART 1 – ALLOWANCE, SKILLS & OTHER PAYMENTS

All Hertfordshire County Council foster carers receive the national minimum fostering allowance; this is paid to foster carers to cover all costs in relation to looking after children and young people. The Hertfordshire Fostering Allowance is linked to the Department of Education National Minimum Fostering Allowance (South East Rate). The only exception to this arrangement is the financial support for Shared Carers.

This document sets out the details of the payments for the current financial year and should be read alongside the Service Handbook


Hertfordshire Fostering Allowances 2020/21

Hertfordshire Fostering Allowances from 1st April 2020 (linked to Department of Education National Minimum Fostering Allowance, South East Rate). N.B. The DfE have increased the rates for 2020-2021.

All rates up to age 11 are reduced by £2.50.00 savings and Age 11 to 18 are reduced by £5.00 savings.  Savings are deducted at source.

Age

0-4

5-10

11-15

16-17

Allowance per week

£150.00

£166.00

£189.00

£222.00

Foster carers are paid an allowance to meet the needs of the children/young people they are looking after. All foster carers, irrespective of their level will receive an allowance. The above includes the children/young people’s clothing allowance and pocket money. The children/young person’s savings element is shown as received and deducted at source on your remittance invoice.

Once approved foster carers will be expected to fill in a form providing their bank details. This will be forwarded to Serco Foster Carer Payments. Foster carers will then be paid via BACS on a four-weekly basis (two weeks in advance and two weeks in arrears)

The four-weekly payment dates for 2020-2021 are shown below:

Period covered
 From  To  Due Date to carer
 21 March 2020  17 April 2020  02 April 2020
 18 April 2020  15 May 2020  30 April 2020
 16 May 2020  12 June 2020  29 May 2020
 13 June 2020  10 July 2020  25 June 2020
 11 July 2020  07 August 2020  23 July 2020
 08 August 2020  04 September 2020  20 August 2020
 05 September 2020  02 October 2020  17 September 2020
 03 October 2020  30 October 2020  15 October 2020
 31 October 2020  27 November 2020  12 November 2020
 28 November 2020  25 December 2020  10 December 2020
 26 December 2020  22 January 2021  07 January 2021
 23 January 2021  19 February 2021  04 February 2021
 20 February 2021  19 March 2021  04 March 2021
 20 March 2021  16 April 2021  01 April 2021

Emergency Payment on Placement

An advance of up to £100.00 (per child/young person) of the foster care allowance can be paid prior to placement.

If an emergency payment is made this should be recorded on the carer’s LCS record via ‘Forms’ as it will be deducted from the allowance when paid.

At the point of placement, the Supervising Social Worker/Duty Worker should establish if an urgent payment is required. If required, Serco Foster Carer Payments should be informed. Urgent payments should only be requested in exceptional circumstances (contact brokerage finance team).

If you have any queries you can contact your Supervising Social Worker.

Early Permanence Arrangements [Foster to Adopt]

Hertfordshire County Council supports and values the Early Permanence arrangements for children looked after. Children are placed with a carer/s that are dually approved as foster carers and adopters able to provide a period of temporary care for the child until the court had made its decision about the appropriate order to secure the child’s permanent plan. This avoids unnecessary moves and promotes the early lasting attachments (Children Act 1989, Guidance and Regulation Vol.2).

Dually approved foster carers, providing early permanency placements are eligible for the national minimum fostering allowance and from the 1st September 2018 Skills Level 1 payment. Early permanency carers are referred to as Foster Carers throughout this document.

1. DEFINITION: SKILLS PAYMENT SCHEME

The Skills Level Scheme is open to all foster carers including Family & Friends Carers, the only exception is Shared Carers.

Age of child in placement

0-4

5-10

11-15

16-17

Allowance

£150

£166

£189

£222

Basic level

(previously Standard level)

£0

£0

Standard level skills payment(previously levels 1 and 2)

£165.07

£246.29

ARC level skills payment

(previously level 3)

 

2nd placement skills payment

£445.36

 

 

£284.74

£445.36

 

 

£284.74

 

Parent and Child skills payment

 

£445.36

Mockingbird Hub carers payment

TBC

Hertfordshire County Council’s scheme has a number of levels each of which has specific requirements. Foster carers can move from one level to another if they meet the requirements and competencies for each level upon application or at review, which will be considered by the Fostering Panel and ADM process.

In addition, should carers not continue to meet the requirements or competencies of the level on which they are placed, they may move to another level that best meets their circumstances following review and recommendation of Panel. Payments are paid for each child in placement.

1.1. BASIC LEVEL

This level applies to all foster carers who have been assessed as meeting the requirements and competencies of the Basic Level; this will usually be applied to Family & Friends Foster Carers who have a connection to the child placed. Foster carers in this category will be entitled to the national minimum fostering allowance. To progress to the next level, Standard Level foster carers need to evidence that they have fully met the requirements and competencies for Standard Level through the review and panel process.

Basic Level foster carers have access to all Hertfordshire learning & development programmes for foster carers.

Requirements

  •  Approved as a foster carer following an assessment undertaken in line with schedule 3 of The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services Regulations 2010, [amended 2013] they must evidence the competencies set out below.

Competencies

Caring for children

  • Foster carers are required to meet the developing needs of children placed in their care through the provision of a good standard of care.

Providing a safe and caring environment

  • Foster carers are assessed to provide safe care for the child placed.
  • Foster carers need to provide safe and secure accommodation to meet the needs of the child throughout the time they are living with them.
  • Foster carers are expected to highlight safeguarding concerns to both their Supervising Social Worker and the child’s Social Worker immediately.
  • Foster carers should expect to receive two unannounced visit per year to safeguard children.

Working as part of a team

  • Foster carers will understand and know the individual needs of the child placed.
  • Foster carers will be required to work closely with the wider Children’s Services department in meeting the child’s identified needs; they must ensure the child is available when their Social Worker carries out statutory visits.
  • Understanding the changing nature and focus of changing relationships.
  • Foster carers will work to minimise the trauma of loss and separation.
  • Foster carers will work to achieve a smooth transition for the child, which will require ongoing teamwork with their Supervising Social Worker and child’s Social Worker.
  • Foster carers need to be available for monthly supervision with their Supervising Social Worker and to use this time to discuss any issues which affect them in caring for the child. Supervision provides the opportunity to discuss any concerns or difficulties they are experiencing in caring for the child and the changing nature of their new role as a foster carer.
  • Foster carers are required to support contact in a safe way with birth parents and extended family members where this is in the best interests of the child.
  • Foster carers are required to attend all meetings in relation to the child placed.
  • Where foster carers become staying put carers or a young person reaching the age of 18, the same expectations apply with minor adjustments.

Own development

  • Foster carers are provided with information in relation to support services that meet their needs.
  • A programme of training is available and specific training can be provided. Foster carers are encouraged and supported to make full use of the comprehensive learning and development programme available for Hertfordshire foster carers.
  • Once approved, Standard Level Foster Carers will be expected to successfully complete the Training, Support and Development (TSD) Standards for connected persons during the first eighteen months after approval.
  • Complete any training as identified by their Supervising Social Worker (including but not limited to first aid, safeguarding and safer caring).

1.2. STANDARD LEVEL FOSTER CARERS

This applies to foster carers who can sufficiently evidence at initial approval or review that they meet Standard level requirements and competencies. Subject to recommendation by Panel and approved by the Agency Decision Maker (ADM), they will receive a Fostering Allowance and a Skills Payment. Dually approved foster carers offering foster to adopt placements are also eligible for consideration.

Requirements

  • To be fully compliant with the Fostering Regulations 2013.
  • To be fully compliant with the NMS Fostering Services 2011.
  • To be fully complaint with the HCC Accommodation Policy.
  • To attend and successfully complete every component of the ‘Skills to Foster’ course or Early Permanence Training.
  • To complete a Personal Development Plan identifying their learning and development needs for their first year as Level 1 carers - this will be reviewed annually.
  • To consider all placements of children within their approval category, if available to foster (vacancy).
  • To demonstrate evidence in their caring role of their skills to meet the needs of children who have experienced trauma and/or significant harm.
  • To successfully complete the Training, Support and Development (TSD) Standards workbook within 12 months of approval. If a foster carer is transferring from another agency and previously completed a TSD workbook, the competencies must be demonstrated during the assessment.

Competencies

Caring for children

  • Ability to provide a good standard of care to children which promotes healthy emotional, physical, sexual and intellectual development.
  • An ability to provide care appropriate to the individual needs of the child.
  • An ability to work closely with the child’s family and others who hold individual importance to the child.
  • An ability to set appropriate boundaries and manage the child’s behaviour within these without the use of physical or other inappropriate sanctions or behaviours.
  • Knowledge of normal childhood development and an ability to listen to and communicate with the child appropriate to their emotional age and understanding.
  • An ability to promote a young person’s development towards adulthood, including a successful transition to semi-independent living.
  • An ability to encourage children to develop appropriate social behaviour, helping them to become more independent and enabling them to cope with their emotions as appropriate to their age.
  • An ability to help children develop basic aspects of memory, thinking, imagination, language, self-expression and manipulative skills through play and conversation etc.
  • An ability to understand the child’s behaviour and give appropriate responses, to ensure an understanding of behaviour through the trauma lens and trauma informed practice.
  • An ability to plan for and provide a varied and appropriate routine which balances the child’s needs, including those of play and learning and sets goals which can be achieved in measuring the child’s development.
  • An ability to help children and families cope with loss and bereavement resulting from life threatening illness or separation through adoption or loss of their idealised family.

Providing a safe and caring environment

  • Develop a ‘Family Safer Caring Policy’ which will be reviewed annually or after any significant change in the household.
  • An ability to ensure that the child is cared for in a home where they are safe from harm or abuse.
  • An ability to help children keep themselves safe from harm or abuse and to know how to seek help if their safety is threatened.
  • An ability to recognise the vulnerability to abuse and to discrimination of disabled children.
  • All children placed must be provided with their own room and personal space. This must be in line with HCC Accommodation Policy
  • Expect to receive at least two unannounced visits per annum to safeguard children.

Working as part of a team

  • An ability to collaborate with other professional workers, sharing information and exchanging skills, and to contribute to the department’s planning for the child/young person.
  • An ability to communicate effectively and, if required, produce written records for court and as a contribution to the child/young person’s case records to identify any changes in behaviour and any reasons for this.
  • A requirement to keep information confidential and use the secure email system and other IT systems as required to communicate with other professional workers.
  • A requirement to promote equality, diversity and the rights of individuals within society.
  • An ability to promote the educational development of children looked after, including evidence of contributing to PEP meetings, attending school/college consultation meetings, supporting home learning and accessing training/activities provided by the Virtual School.
  • An ability to promote the health needs of children looked after evidenced in a healthy lifestyle, attendance of health appointments and recording information in the Red Health Book or My Care Journey (Health Passport).

Own development

  • An ability to appreciate how personal experiences have affected themselves and their families, and the impact that fostering is likely to have on them all.
  • An ability to use people and links within the community to provide support.
  • An ability to use training opportunities and improve skills.
  • An ability to sustain positive relationships and maintain effective functioning through periods of stress.
  • During the first year they must complete the following training courses:

  • First Aid
  • Safer Caring
  • Safeguarding
  • Record Keeping
  • Healing Approach to Trauma
  • Prevent
  • Delegated Authority
  • And any other training identified by their Supervising Social Worker

  • Foster Carers must also attend at least six support groups per year. Early Permanence carers attend three support events per year.
  • Standard level Carers are also required to complete a 6-week ARC Training Course (Attachment, Regulation and Competency) during the first year. Thereafter, regular attendance at ARC workshops is encouraged.
  • Successful completion of Training Support Development (TSD) within 12 months of approval
  • Foster carers should attend additional training courses to support their knowledge and ability to support the children they are looking after, as part of their personal development plan
  • Foster carers are encouraged to contribute to the Service by being part of development groups e.g. training or recruitment strategy. They are also encouraged to mentor or “buddy” new or inexperienced foster carers or contribute to the ‘Skills to Foster’ course.

1.3. ARC LEVEL PAYMENTS

There are a small number of ARC carers in Hertfordshire however, there is currently no active recruitment to this category of carer.

ARC carers are expected to have the experience and skills in caring for children with more complex and challenging behaviours, and have additional knowledge of the ARC model.

It is expected that ARC carers will continually evidence these requirements and competencies, as monitored through their annual review. All ARC reviews will be overseen by an Independent Reviewing Officer. A move to Standard Level may be considered via the review and panel process in some circumstances.

ARC foster carers receive an allowance for each child in placement as well as an enhanced payment for Skills.

Requirements

  • One carer to be available full-time (sleepover carer will be assessed individually and depending on the type of sleepover might not be required to be at home full-time).
  • No own children living at home under the age of eighteen.
  • Have at least two years’ experience in working with and/or caring for children/young people.
  • Can demonstrate a commitment to ongoing training and application in practice and able to evidence previous relevant training undertaken.
  • Must be able to evidence that they can meet the ARC carer competencies.

Competencies

Caring for children

  • Provides a high standard of care to children looked after with the most complex needs and challenging behaviours that promotes development and includes emotional warmth, nurturing and understanding in very challenging circumstances.
  • Understanding the impact that chronic abuse and trauma has on all areas of development and being mindful that a child’s behaviour may not be in line with their chronological age and will fluctuate according to their emotional state.
  • Understand how a child’s past experiences continues to impact on presenting behaviours and attune their responses accordingly.
  • Ability to support a child’s agreed contact plan and support the child with any emotions regarding contact.
  • Sets appropriate boundaries and manages the child’s behaviour without the use of physical or other inappropriate responses.
  • Appropriately promotes the child/young person’s progression towards independence dependent on their personal development.

Providing a safe and caring environment

  • Ensures that the child is safe from harm and abuse and develops their awareness and skills in keeping themselves safe.
  • Recognises the vulnerability to abuse and discrimination of children with a history of trauma.
  • Assesses the risks a child might pose to self, others and/or environment and the risk others might pose to the child and acts to reduce this.
  • Ability to distinguish between behaviours which may be a result of past trauma and those that are expected as part of normal childhood development.
  • Provides a clean, organised and welcoming home environment. Working as part of a team
  • Works in a way that promotes good communication and professional relationships and shows understanding of different roles.
  • Evidences knowledge of confidentiality and what information should be shared, with whom and when.
  • Contributes to care planning and being confident to appropriately challenge and advocate for a child whilst continuing to work to the departments care plan.
  • An ability to work in a non-judgemental way and challenge discrimination appropriately.
  • Be able to offer support to other carers through mentoring and buddying and show a commitment to regularly attend therapeutic groups and other relevant meetings/training for specialist carers.


Professionalism and Personal Development

  • Appreciates how personal experiences and past relationships have affected themselves and their families as well as showing an openness to discuss what impact fostering is likely to have/has had on themselves, their families and relationships.
  • Capacity to engage in and develop professionally through reflective supervision. This includes the ability to acknowledge one’s own triggers and an ability to learn and reflect on them through use of supervision.
  • Completes detailed, reflective and timely recordings as well as reports any significant concerns about a child or their own ability to care for a child to their Supervising Social Worker.

Should ARC level foster carers cease to meet these competencies or be unable to manage the complex needs of specialist placements, however, provide a good standard of care for children and young people following a review at Panel they will become Standard Level carers.

Further ARC Level Payment Guidance

Consideration can be made for ARC Level carers to take on a second placement; however, this requires careful matching consideration for the other child in placement. A decision will be made in consultation with the CLA team for the child already in placement. In these circumstances the ARC level carer will receive a payment for skills of £445.36 per week for a first placement and £284.74 per week for subsequent placements. If a placement is no longer deemed to require ARC Level support, there will be a review to consider the ongoing arrangement for placement support and levels of remuneration.

ARC Level carers should be aware that declining an offered placement must be with good reason and will be monitored (in line with carers written agreement).

ARC Level Retainers

ARC Level carers may be paid a discretionary retainer of up to 4 weeks at £445.36 per week,

Retainers are utilised to enable carers to have some financial assistance in between specialist placements in the unlikely event that a suitable placement is not forthcoming. This is because specialist carers are recruited on the basis that the main carer does not undertake additional paid work.

1.4 OTHER PAYMENTS

PACE PAYMENTS

PACE carers offer one-night placements for young people who have been arrested and are charged with an offence and have been refused bail.

PACE foster carers receive a weekly retainer [ARC Level payment] to offer placements for young people who are remanded to Local Authority accommodation by the courts and will remain in placement until the next available court hearing (usually the following day).

The PACE payment is made up of 2 components:

  • Weekly ARC Level Skills payment [retainer]
  • Age related fostering allowance for each night children are placed (most PACE placements will be paid 2 days allowance dependant on court appearance).

Payment Example:

Weekly ARC Level  PACE retainer:                                  £445.36

Day rate of fostering allowance (11-15 yrs.)                    £ 27.00

PARENT AND CHILD PAYMENTS

Parent and child carers will receive a standard skills payment as a retainer during any periods when there is no parent/child placed.

When a parent and child are placed with them, this pay will change to the following:

Enhanced parent & child skills payment (current ARC Level rate)                  £445.36

Current child allowance (including pocket money & clothing)                          £148.50

Parent allowance (including pocket money & clothing)                                £222.00

Weekly total                                                                                                       £815.86

Support once family move back to community:

The carer will move back to standard skills retainer payment and receives a ‘community based support payment’ (Sessional rate) of £9.21 per hour.

If the parent leaves the placement and the baby remains with the carer, the carer’s payments will be reduced to standard payments with child’s full allowance (i.e. including pocket money and clothing added).

MOCKINGBIRD HUB CARER PAYMENTS

The Mockingbird Family Model is an alternative, innovative method of delivering foster care with the potential to improve placement stability, safety and permanency for children and young people in care and to improve support for, and retention of foster carers. The model has also proven to be positive for recruitment of new foster carers.

It uses the concept of a ‘hub’ which is where 6 to 10 ‘satellite’ families of foster carers who live near a dedicated hub home. The hub home carers are specially recruited and trained carers offering sleepovers, peer support, regular joint planning and social activities.

Mockingbird hub home carers are required to have met the competencies of their approval level and will sign a specific Mockingbird hub carer agreement.

Mockingbird hub home carers are required to:

  1. Have 2 beds/bedrooms for planned and emergency sleepovers;
  2. One carer to be at home full time;
  3. Have no children placed with them full time (in exceptional circumstances the Fostering Service may waiver this condition)
  4. Offer emotional and practical support to all children and foster carers in the hub;
  5. Arrange monthly hub events/activities for all children and carers in the constellation;
  6. Work closely with the Mockingbird social worker to support planning and delivery of Mockingbird.
  7. In exceptional circumstances, hub carers might be required to offer sleepovers for children within the hub for extended periods due to promote placement stability and support.

Payment structure:

Foster carers selected as Mockingbird hub home carers will be paid a Mockingbird hub carer payment of £445.36 per week.

The Mockingbird hub payment finances the support offer to foster carers and children within the hub (i.e. emotional support, phone calls, babysitting, day care, responding to emergencies etc.)

In addition, the Mockingbird hub home carer will be paid the child’s fostering allowance pro rata for each sleepover.

Fostering can pay a renumeration for cost of children’s meals when offering short pieces of support. ( £5.00 per meal).

The hub home carer will also be paid an agreed amount to fund monthly constellation events/activities for children and carers in the hub. This rate is currently at £150 per month per hub.

The payments to Mockingbird hub home carers will be reviewed annually.

2. STAYING PUT

Once a young person reaches their 18th birthday they are no longer looked after and therefore foster carer allowances and children looked after allowances no longer apply.

As such, and to assist with preparing for independence, young people are expected to take responsibility for some parts of the allowance foster carers previously provided. The changes set out below take place five weeks after the young person’s 18th birthday, acknowledging that there will be a period of transition whilst a young person receives earnings from employment, education or benefits such as Universal Credit,

  1. The Staying Put Allowance is £166.16 per week. (Please see number 6 below) This is made up of Fostering Allowance of £22.00 per week and a reduction of £55.84 per week that previously covered, savings (£5.00) pocket money (£13.60), clothing (£22.24), personal allowance and mobile phone costs (£15.00)
  2. Young people are required to cover their personal needs replacing the pocket money, clothing and mobile phone element of the Fostering Allowance from their earning or benefits. The Staying Put carer is no longer expected to provide these items. A young person’s benefits will be at least £58.90 per week if on ESA, JSA or Income Support or £342.70 per calendar month if on Universal Credit, higher than the level of the reduction.
  3. Young people are also required to pay rent of £98.00 per week either from their earnings, housing benefit, universal credit housing costs element or a combination of those sources of income. The housing benefit is paid directly to Children’s Services to avoid any disruption to the staying-put carer’s payment. If the young person is on universal credit, the housing costs element of that benefit is normally paid to the claimant, but it is possible to request an ‘alternative payment arrangement’ and have the housing cost element paid to a third party (Children’s Services).
  4. Where young people are earning variable amounts and are required to contribute over 50% of their earnings to the rent, and to get them used to budgeting, it is recommended that they receive the housing benefit  or housing element of Universal Credit themselves and set up a standing order of £98.00 per week to Children’s Services.
  5. The £166.16 per week payment to the Staying Put carer includes the rent element of £98.00 per week where it is paid to Children’s Services.
  6. Foster Carers receive the skills payment they previously received, if the young person is in Staying Put Supported, or an additional £20.00 if the Young Person is in Staying Put Lodgings.

The minimum rate received is £186.16 (2020-2021)

In addition, and because the young person is no longer looked after, the following elements of the foster care payments framework ceases:

  1. Christmas/festival allowances;
  2. Birthday allowances (18th birthday payment covered by fostering payments schedule);
  3. Holiday/respite allowances.

Hertfordshire County Council has two categories of Staying Put:

  1. Staying Put Supported
  2. Staying Put Lodgings

The criteria for the two categories of Staying Put and more information on the procedure applied for payments are set out in the 2020-2021 Staying Put Policy.

3.  FOSTER CARER’S ANNUAL LEAVE

3.1 Foster carers approved at Level 1 and above on 1st April each year will be paid an annual leave payment, calculated according to the number of placements for which the foster carer is approved to take (not the number currently in placement). Foster carers joining the Service part way through the financial year will receive their first annual leave payment the following April. This payment is processed in April each year and will be received by carers by the end of June.

All foster carers receiving a skills payment and offering full time placements, are entitled to two weeks annual leave per placement approved for. Respite carers are entitled to one week. Respite carer will receive half the annual leave payment. The weekly rates are shown below:

 

Standard level

ARC level

Weekly payment per approval

 £100.40

 £237.30

A foster carer’s annual leave payment is calculated as shown below and will be per approved placement:

       Standard Level               (£100.40 x 2 weeks)              £200.80

            ARC Level                    (£237.30 x 2 weeks)              £474.60

Respite carers receive 1 week’s annual leave payment per placement approved for.

3.2 The child/young person’s placement plan should include arrangements that need to be made for foster carers’ annual leave and notice of this (ideally 28 days) should be communicated to the Supervising Social Worker.

3.3  Annual leave can be taken separately from family holidays if the child/young person is in not in placement or alternative arrangements have been made within the family network, however this must be discussed with the Supervising Social Worker. It is essential that the number of changes in accommodation for the child/young person is kept to a minimum therefore careful consideration of foster carer’s annual leave is important.

4. DISTURBANCE PAYMENT

4.1 Where a placement is booked with a foster carer but not made, a disturbance payment will be paid to cover the expenses of the carer in preparing for the placement. Disturbance Payments are made when a foster carer agrees to take a child/young person and the placement does not take place i.e. we do not achieve the order. Disturbance payment (1 child) per day £15.21.

Disturbance payment (siblings) per day £22.92

This payment will be made within one calendar month of the cancellation.

5. BED BLOCKER, RETAINER, SESSIONAL AND EMERGENCY CARER PAYMENTS

5.1 Bed Blockers (not usually applicable for Family & Friends Foster Carers, Early

Permanence Arrangements or ARC Level carers)

A bed blocker may be considered in exceptional circumstance due to the complex needs of a child. It is possible to consider this option following full analysis of the specific reasons why no other children can be placed with the carer. An additional payment for skills for each approved place 'blocked' may be paid. This decision needs to be made prior to placement and agreed by the Fostering Service Manager in consultation with the respective Fostering Team Manager. These arrangements must be reviewed every three months.

This only applies if foster carers are approved for more than one placement.

5.2 Retainers and Sessional Payments (not usually applicable for Early Permanence Arrangements or Family & Friends Foster Carers)

Retainer payments can be made to foster carers who do preparatory or follow-up work at the end of a complex placement. Payments are made in line with the carer’s respective Skills level.

i) The payment is also made to carers holding a placement for children where care proceedings have been, or are about to be, initiated; for pre-adoption placements the period of the payment will be agreed at the outset by the Fostering Team Manager.

ii) There is also a sessional rate of £9.39 per hour may be paid to carers who assist in any recruitment activities which do not involve staff.

iii) Ambassador Coordinators are paid £15 per hour.

iv) Carers who have the appropriate skills may be identified to offer additional support to other carers to help support placements at risk of breakdown. This will involve a discreet piece of work identified and formally agreed by professionals involved in the case. Any carer asked to undertake such piece of work will be paid a sessional rate of £9.39 per hour. Carers will be matched based on their skills and abilities.

v) Sessional payments may be treated as earnings by the Department of Work and Pensions, where a foster carer is in receipt of benefits, as the payments are not related to the carers own fostering responsibilities. They may also be taxable for the same reason.

5.3 Emergency Carer Payment (not usually applicable for Early Permanence Arrangements or Family & Friends Foster Carers)

Two foster carers per Fostering Team will be paid to be available for any emergency placements over Christmas and the New Year. Foster carers will be identified based on how flexible they can be in relation to the number of children and the age range they are prepared to take. Foster Carers will be paid £150.00 per week for up to two weeks. It is expected that if foster carers receive this payment, they will be available for the whole period and will accept any placement offered.

An emergency ‘out of hours’ service has been established to provide carers on standby for young people aged 11+ over the weekend. Participating carers are expected to be part of a rota and be available all weekend if on duty and take any young person in the age group 11–18.

6. COMPLAINTS AND ALLEGATIONS

6.1 If a child is moved or no placement made due to an allegation, complaint or concern having been raised all payable allowances will cease with immediate effect but at the discretion of the Council carers may continue to receive their payments for Skills for a maximum of sixteen weeks. This is paid per child based on the number of children in placement at the time of the alleged incident.

6.2 The decision to pay carers during dispute will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Fostering Team Manager in conjunction with the Fostering Service Manager. Foster carers will be informed of this authorisation by their Supervising Social Worker and/or Fostering Team Manager at the earliest opportunity; this will be followed-up with written notification from the Fostering Team manager.

6.3 The payment during investigation is a supportive measure to ensure that the foster carer is not financially disadvantaged during this period.

7. EQUIPMENT

7.1 When Hertfordshire County Council newly approves a foster carer, it acknowledges that a certain amount of equipment is required for the carer to undertake the role of fostering. HCC may be prepared to fund certain equipment if the foster carer does not already possess what is needed.

7.2 Each foster carer is to be allocated a maximum amount for what is basic equipment/furniture. If foster carers require something specific (e.g. a more expensive item to fit in with their furniture) it is expected that they would fund the difference.

7.3 For foster carers approved to take babies a payment of £500.00 per number of placements approved will be provided to cover the purchase of the following:

  • Cot, mattress and bedding
  • Pushchair/buggy
  • High chair
  • Car seat
  • Sterilizer unit
  • Baby monitor

7.4 For foster carers approved to take children aged 3-10 a payment of £500.00 per number of placements approved will be provided to cover the purchase of the following:

  • Bed and bedding;
  • Wardrobe;
  • Chest-of-drawers;
  • Car seat (if appropriate);
  • Stair gate (if appropriate).

7.5 For foster carers approved to take children aged 11 and above, a payment of £500.00 per number of placements approved will be provided to cover the purchase of the following:

  • Bed and bedding;
  • Wardrobe;
  • Chest-of-drawers; Desk.

7.6 Foster carers on approval will be expected to provide a list of what equipment they need together with a breakdown of the cost per item. This should be written on a requisition form (FN008) this can be obtained from the Fostering Team. Receipts must be passed to the Fostering Team Manager for auditing purposes. However, carers may choose to find equipment and present receipts up to the maximum of £500.00, for reimbursement in agreement with their Supervising Social Worker. The payment will be made via BACS.

7.7 The Fostering Service will be responsible for providing new cot mattresses as required, bearing in mind the recommendations that a new mattress should be provided for each new baby.

7.8 When a carer’s approval is changed, either to extend their approved age range or number of placements, they should discuss what (if any) extra equipment they need with their Supervising Social Worker; this should be itemised and costed with a breakdown presented to the Fostering Team Manager for approval.

8. REPLACEMENT COSTS

8.1 If equipment needs to be replaced due to accidents or deliberate damage by a foster child, the cost will normally be met by the County Council or its insurers following an assessment by the Supervising Social Worker (see ‘Appendix 2’) Form No 242B.

8.2 For normal ‘wear and tear’ the Fostering Network advises that replacement should be met by the foster carer. If, however, there is excessive ‘wear and tear’ due to circumstances this cost may be met by the Fostering Service.

9. FOSTERING ALLOWANCE STRUCTURE

Allowance and amount

Guidance and conditionality

Pocket Money weekly rate

Age    

0-4     £5.20

5-7     £5.40

8         £5.70

9-10   £6.40

11       £6.70

12       £8.00

13       £9.10

14       £10.10

15       £12.40

16+     £13.60

 

The pocket money allowance is provided to children and young people for their general and personal needs. Foster carers with young children should use the pocket money allowance to cover the costs of activities, comics, snacks etc.

It is acceptable for foster carers, akin to family life, to give children and young people incentive payments in certain circumstances.


Pocket money is to come out of the fostering allowance.

Clothing

Age              Weekly rate

0-4                £11.25

5-10                 £13.10

11-15             £17.08

16-17              £22.24

The clothing allowance indicated is the minimum that can be used flexibly to purchase items directly by the foster carer/s as necessary for young children and be provided to older children/young people on a weekly/monthly basis or as required. It is expected that to encourage young people to develop budgeting skills that they should be given more responsibility for spending some or all their clothing allowance. Basic clothing needs must be met, e.g. underwear, shoes, school uniform, but once these things are purchased the young person should be allowed to purchase their own clothes. It is expected that carers should monitor this by seeing receipts or at least verifying that clothes have been bought.

The use of the allowance will differ between individuals and should be set out in the child/young person’s placement plan and be agreed by the foster carer/s, Supervising Social Worker and the child/young person’s Social Worker and Leaving Care Personal Adviser.

Following discussions with the Supervising Social Worker and child/young person’s Social Worker, if it is assessed that the child/young person has enough clothing the allowance should be placed in a savings account for future needs. This should also be discussed with the child/young person depending on age and understanding.

Contribution to Prom expenses

£120.00

 

To claim for Prom expenses(outfits) please, discuss with your SSW, to action exceptional expenditure.

Foster carers should keep a record to demonstrate how the allowance has been used and what items of clothing or alternative items have been purchased (see Form FN024C).

This is required for audit purposes and to ensure that the child/young person has received their full entitlement for each financial year and particularly when they move between placements (foster carers should retain receipts for their records).

Foster carer(s) of young people aged sixteen and over should ensure that the young person has enough suitable clothing for formal/interview situations, education/training/employment opportunities and for their future move to independent living.

Clothing money is to come out of the fostering allowance

 

Education materials and related costs

 

Standard materials that are required for the child/young person’s school attendance and activities are provided for within the fostering allowance. If specific major items are required foster carers should contact their Supervising Social Worker regarding payments for one-off educational situations.

The fostering allowance provides for the purchase of an annual set of standard school photographs (up to £15.00). If it is assessed by the foster carer/s, Supervising Social Worker and Social Worker that supplementary photographs are required a ‘one-off’ payment will be made by the fostering service.

Education materials and related are to come out of the fostering allowance.

Carers should liaise with the young person’s social worker to ensure that the £1200.00 a year “16-19-year- old bursary” is claimed by a CLA who is in full time non-advanced education.

Mobile phones

 

If a child/young person has a mobile phone it is expected that the foster carer will provide £10.44 per month to top-up their allowance.

Mobile phone top-ups are to come out of the fostering allowance.

Toiletries


In general, it is expected that children would use toiletries provided by carers for general use. It is envisaged, however, that as children get older carers should provide them with toiletries of their choice within reason. Again, to encourage young people to budget as they get older, an allowance should be given to the young person for them to purchase their own toiletries.

Toiletries are to come out of the fostering allowance.

 

Contact

 

When a child has contact with their parents it is not expected that carers should fund any activities that they do. Carers are, however, expected to provide a snack and drink for the child only.

If the contact is between siblings, it is expected that carers fund their child’s activity so that contact can be more informal.

 

Savings

 

The following amounts will be deducted at source (i.e. deducted from the foster allowance and retained by Hertfordshire County Council) and paid directly into a savings account (Junior ISA/Child Trust Fund) for the child/young person where this is in place.  In the interim, an individual 3rd party interest-bearing account will be utilised to accumulate the child’s savings.

The child/young person savings rates are as follows:

  • Up to 10-year olds - £2.50 per week
  • 11 to 15-year olds - £5.00 per week
  • 16- and 17-year olds £5.00 per week
  • 18+ - There is no expectation that the young person will receive savings when under a Staying Put arrangement (see Section 2)

Young people will be sent and be able to access their Junior ISA/Child Trust Fund shortly after their 18th birthday (unless they lack ‘capacity’).

In addition to the Junior ISA foster carers may assist children and young people to set up an account or process for short term savings or for specific items, see section below.  (For those eligible for a government-funded Junior ISA, this should not be a Stocks & Shares ISA.  If they have a Child Trust Fund, they are not able to open a Junior ISA).

Once a young person reaches the age of eighteen, they are normally entitled to access their savings account. It is expected that carers should offer the young person support on how to use these savings. In some circumstances, the child’s social worker will need to assess the child’s ‘mental capacity’ to determine whether that money can be accessed directly or whether trustees need to be appointed.

The county council may also be holding additional monies for the child such as personal injury awards and inheritances. Refer to CS Financial Planning Panel for support.

The child should continue to receive pocket money from their foster carer as before which can be used as required and/or saved in the short-term. Foster carers should support children to open a savings/bank account in their own name for this purpose from the age of 7 when they will be able to open them without an adult sponsor. It is expected that all children would have an account by their 14th birthday in readiness for

when they reach adulthood and move on to independence.

Foster carers should check with the child’s social worker as to what the relevant savings limits are for means-tested benefits that the young person may require. Currently, £6000.00 or over will mean a reduction in means-tested benefits and £16,000 or over will mean cessation.  

We would wish carers to act as good parents and encourage children/young people to save money to spend on something useful rather than for daily living expenses.

Where the child or young person is in receipt of benefits related to disability (Disability Living Allowance if 0-151, Personal Independence Payment if 16+) these should be spent in accordance with the relevant HCC policy.

 

Nursery Fees

A child aged 2-4 can get free early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

  • they’re looked after by a local council;
  • they have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan;
  • they get Disability Living Allowance ;
  • they’ve left care under a special guardianship order; child arrangements order or adoption order.

This care is for 30 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year.

Foster carers who work outside of their fostering role have access to 30 hours free childcare for three-and-four-year-olds since September 2018. It must be consistent with the child’s care plan and appropriate for the child. Foster carers can apply through a separate application route, which involves completing a form that has to be counter-signed by a designated person.

There is no provision for the payment of additional nursery fees as these are included in the fostering allowance. In exceptional circumstances there may be a need for an additional payment to cover nursery costs if this cannot be met from other resources including use of the Pupil Premium. Any requests must be considered by the Fostering Team Manager in the first instance before approval by Fostering Service Manager.

Nursery fees are to come out of the fostering allowance.

Note: Early Permanence children would not be expected to attend nursery.

 

Luggage

£35 per annum

 

The fostering allowance provides for the purchase of two items of luggage for children and young people. All children/young people moving between placements or to independence must have appropriate personal luggage. It is unacceptable for belongings to be moved in plastic bags.

Luggage costs are to come out of the fostering allowance.

 

Respite breaks

 

Respite breaks provide important support for complex placements.

Respite breaks are offered

Payment for respite

(a) Where the care plan has established the need. Details of the plans and arrangements should be recorded in the care plan and review. Consideration needs to be given to the impact of other children in placement. The impact on the household needs to be monitored.

(b) In crisis situations where the carer, Social Worker and Supervising Social Worker agree that the respite break meets the child and family's needs.

(a) Respite care: Carers who offer less than a full-time placement (e.g. weekend care only) will be paid pro-rata. In exceptional circumstances the placement plan may recommend that a place be kept available full-time (e.g. children at residential schools requiring regular weekend and/or holiday care) and will be paid as such.

(b) Where the child's main placement is not expected to provide clothing (e.g. weekly boarding school), the respite carer will receive the full clothing allowance (i.e. not pro-rata) and will be responsible for providing all clothing including school uniform.

(c) The allowance (excluding clothing element) will be paid to the respite carer. The main carer is responsible for the child's clothing.

(d) Other than in circumstances outlined above, the respite carer will not receive an allowance for clothing. This will remain the responsibility of the main carer, who will continue to receive this allowance.

If a child goes into respite with another approved carer, the main carer will continue to receive the payment for Skills based on their approval category. If the respite is for four days or less, they will also continue to receive the allowance. Respite carers will receive a payment for Skills based on their approval level and the allowance minus the clothing element.

Level 3 carers providing respite to specialist children will receive the relevant payment based on their Level 3 approval.

In the event that a Level 3 carer provides respite on behalf of a Level 1 or Level 2 carer, then the corresponding level of payment shall be made.

Note: (not applicable for Early Permanence carers).

 

Occasional care provided by relative/ friends of foster carers

 

From time to time it may be appropriate (subject to the usual checks and agreement of the children’s social work team and Fostering Service) for a child to be looked after temporarily by a member of the carers' extended family or friend. It can only be arranged where the foster child already knows the relative or friend. Such an arrangement may be the best way to provide continuity of care for the child.

Such an arrangement would be made either (a) as part of an agreed respite care plan for the child or (b) to cover an unforeseen emergency (e.g. illness). In these circumstances the relative will receive the fostering allowance less the clothing element. The payment of allowances will be adjusted to the main carer after four days.

In all other circumstances any care arranged is the responsibility of the foster carer to pay directly.

(not applicable for Early Permanence carers).

 

Day care allowance

 

Where a child is out of school during term-time and requires care during the day an allowance will be paid to the foster carers if they are providing day care. Part- payment will be made at a half-day rate for any child out of school part of the day.

Daily day care allowance (per child per day): £15.42

The above rate will also be made if the child needs nursing for more than one week. Payments will start from the date the child started to receive nursing at home.

Where day care must be provided by another foster carer (e.g. child excluded from school after placement and the main carer is working) payment will be made during term-time at the hourly day care rate below. Reasonable transport costs of the carer providing day care will be reimbursed.

Hourly day care allowance (per child per hour):  £5.28

Note: This allowance is not applicable for children above statutory school-leaving age or during school holidays. Inset days are treated as school holidays.

Claims - the foster carer providing care should claim using form ‘FN024A’ monthly. The form should be sent to the foster carer’s Supervising Social Worker for authorisation.

It may be necessary at times for carers to attend appointments without the child and on these occasions’, carers providing this care will be paid at the hourly rate of £5.28.

(not applicable for Early Permanence carers).

Allowance and amount

Guidance and conditionality


Travel costs

Carers receive an allowance for each young person for transport costs for up to £20.00 per week. This is within the fostering base allowance. Any mileage arising from fostering activities will come out of the fostering base allowance. This will include all mileage in relation to a child’s social/ leisure activities, attendance at children in care council/ fostering events, days out as a fostering family and general mileage arising as part of the fostering role. It may be that in certain circumstances, where an activity requires the foster carer to undertake an exceptional amount of mileage, consideration will be given to making additional mileage payments. Any request of this nature must be submitted via your supervising social worker who can explore whether an exceptional payment will be paid. All these requests will be looked at individually on a case by case basis.

Foster carers will be reimbursed for all the mileage accrued when transporting children to education, training, contact (where it’s safe to do so) and health appointments. It is expected that Foster carers should transport children & young people to all the above.

Foster carers will also be able to claim for all mileage to training, support groups and any fostering recruitment events.

Where appropriate and depending on an assessment of need that takes account of age and maturity, young people should be encouraged to use local public transport and should be provided with a Hertfordshire Saver Card/Travel Card or the local equivalent, that provides half fare bus travel or thirty percent train travel for students aged 11 to 18.

The Hertfordshire Saver (Bus) Card is £25.00 (£20.00 on-line) per academic year for students under 16 in full time education and for students 16-18 in full time education.

The Student Discount Training Travel Card is £30.00 and provides a reduction for all students aged 16 & 17 and 18 to 21.

The aim of encouraging the use of a bus pass is to assist with education, training and employment opportunities, family and social contact, leisure and cultural needs, avoiding social isolation and encouraging the development of independence skills. For young people placed outside of the Hertfordshire area a bus pass relevant to his/her locality should be provided.

£25.00 [£20.00 on-line] – 18-year-old Saver Card (student discount bus travel card) – provides a 50% reduction on all journeys.

£30.00 - 18-year-old student discount train travel card – provides a 30% reduction on all journeys.

Where the child or young person has a disability, a claim for DLA Mobility ( age 3-15) or PIP Mobility (16+) should be made, with the assistance of the Money Advice Unit if required. If benefit is awarded, or is already in payment, please the relevant HCC policy on the use of disability benefits.

If carers do mileage more than 10,000 miles, they may be liable for income tax. This is due to Children’s Services using discretion to pay a higher mileage rate than set by HMRC for miles exceeding 10,000 miles. It is expected that mileage claims are completed bi- monthly.

Staying Put (see Section 2)

Young people who are in Staying Put Supported placements will be treated in the same way as under 18’s although there is a greater expectation that the Young Person should be using public transport.

For Young People in Staying Put lodgings there is no expectation that the carer will provide money for transport and any claims for funding should be made via the Virtual School 16+ team.

 

Initial clothing allowance

Age weekly rate

0-4          
£228.10

5-10        
£228.10

11-15      
£228.10

16-17      
£228.10

This is available when a child/young person first enters foster care and does not have adequate clothing. While it is not easy to identify what ‘adequate’ is, the following can be used as a guide:

Babies:

9 outfits (baby-grow, pyjamas etc.);

6 vests;

1 outdoor suit;

7 sets of underwear and socks;

Pre-school children:

2 sets of nightwear, dressing gown and slippers;

Footwear – shoes, trainers and

Wellington boots; Coat;

4 sets of everyday clothes;

School age children:

As pre-school children, and school uniform (as identified by school) or 2 sets of school clothes.

Where a child coming into care does not have at least the above clothing requirements an initial clothing grant will be provided up to an age-related maximum.

(Receipts will be required).

 

School/College/Work uniform allowance

 

This allowance can be claimed when a child/young person either starts a new school or changes school. The cost of the uniform can be claimed up to a maximum amount (see table below). It is envisaged that the full allowance will not be claimed for primary school children as their uniform can be purchased at a relatively small cost. In exceptional circumstances if the secondary school uniform costs more than the detailed amount consideration may be given to making an additional payment. This will need to be agreed prior to payment.

On starting or changing primary school

£145.50

On starting secondary school

 £321.57

On changing secondary school

 £269.55

Starting work/college allowance

 £321.57

This allowance can be claimed to enable a young person to buy suitable clothing for work/college from the age of 16. An allowance may also be claimed to cover the cost of special clothing or equipment required for work experience.

Allowance and amount

Guidance and conditionality

 

Holiday allowance

 

Age 2 x weekly rate

0-4
£300.00

5-10       
£332.00

11-15            
£378.00

16-17
£444.00

The holiday allowance is provided for a major holiday of at least five days once per year per child. All carers, regardless of approval level, will receive a holiday payment equivalent to two weeks fostering allowance for each child placed which is paid routinely in July for the beginning of the summer holidays.

Carers may request their Supervising Social Worker to arrange an earlier payment if they wish to take an earlier holiday. If this payment, together with two-thirds of the fostering allowance, does not cover the cost an additional payment would be considered where the holiday promotes the welfare of the child/young person. This must be approved by the Fostering Team Manager.

The additional payment will be up to a maximum of £175.00 per week for two weeks. Carers should not book a holiday until funding has been agreed.

The purpose of family-based care is to give the child a full experience of family life. It offers the child an opportunity to feel valued and fully participate in the life of the foster family, including family holidays. In planning for family holidays please consider:

(a) The need for consistency of care for the child/young person;

(b) The view of the child/young person about accompanying the family;

(c) The needs of the carers and their family;

(d) The child/young person’s education. Foster carers must not take a child/young person out of school during term-time;

The exceptions where it might not be possible for carers to take a child on holiday could be:

(a) Emergency placements where holiday arrangements have already been made;

(b) Where the care plan states the family needs a break apart from the child (this would also be in the placement plan or agreed at a child care review);

(c) Where the child/young person wishes to take their holiday separately.

Holiday plans should be included in the placement plan and reviewed if necessary.

 

Birthday

Age weekly rate

0-4                 £150.00

5-10               £166.00

11-15             £189.00

16-18             £222.00


An additional allowance, equivalent to one week of the fostering allowance, is provided to purchase a gift(s) for the child/young person’s birthday. There is flexibility and can be used as a contribution towards to cost of celebrations. This allowance will be paid for the last time on the young person’s 18th birthday.

Any purchases using this allowance should be noted on a ‘FN024C’.

If the child moves from the placement once the allowance has been paid, the allowance should be returned to Serco Foster Carer Payments and not passed to the new carer.

Christmas/Festival

Age  weekly rate

0-4          
£150.00

5-10       
£166.00

11-15     
£189.00

16-17     
£222.00

 

An additional allowance, equivalent to one week of the fostering allowance, is provided to purchase a gift(s) and a contribution towards the cost of celebrations for the child/young person at Christmas or alternative religious festival. This allowance will be paid for the last time on the young person’s 18th birthday.

Any purchases using this allowance should be noted on a ‘FN024C’.

If the child moves from the placement once the allowance has been paid, the allowance should be returned to Serco Foster Carer Payments and not passed to the new carer.

 

Computers/Laptops

 

Children/ young people should have access to a computer/laptop whilst living in foster care to assist with education, learning and social activities. The use of the computer/laptop should be supervised closely. The computer/laptop should not be in the child/young person’s bedroom.

(not applicable for Early Permanence carers).

 

School Holidays and Trips

 

Carers are expected to pay for any school holiday and trips up to £30.00 per term from their fostering allowance. Costs over and above this may be claimed on exceptional expenditure via the Supervising Social Worker.

For longer trips and holidays a discussion needs to take place between the Supervising Social Worker and the child’s Social Worker to decide on the appropriateness of the trip. If it’s felt to be in the child’s best interests, in the first instance the school should be approached to provide funding from the Pupil Premium or sharing the cost in the first instance. Carers and young people may also be asked to contribute.

Any payment needs to be agreed by the Team Manager and then passed to the Fostering Service Manager for approval.

 

Key Documents

 

Children’s Services Social Work Teams will purchase a passport and birth certificate for all children and young people. This will provide two forms of identification as well as a travel document. Both items can also assist young people with opening bank/saving accounts and provide identification when young people are moving onto independence.

 

Exceptional Expenditure

(Activities)

 

The foster care allowance includes the additional costs foster carers incur over and above looking after children in their own homes. Carers are expected to pay for up to two activities per week. If the child/young person participates more than two activities per week then the fostering service will consider paying for one other or sharing the cost of a more expensive activity.

As the additional costs of fostering are already being met, it is only in exceptional cases that additional allowances may be paid.

If the child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIP) this should be used to enhance the life chances of the child/young person in line with the Hertfordshire Guidance, see Section 16. It should only be used in agreement with your Supervising Social Worker who should record this in supervision. A full record of DLA/PIP expenditure with receipts/evidence is required to ensure that this expenditure is subject to audit and scrutiny. See Form FN024D.

Examples include:

(a) Where the special needs of the child/young person cannot be met by the fostering allowance (e.g. special diet, special activities, extra hygiene, extra laundry etc.), Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal

Independent Payment (PIP) or Universal Credit (UC) should be used in the first instance.

(b) It is important in promoting the development of, or to establish the self-esteem of, a vulnerable child/young person that an expensive item be purchased now rather than saved up for.

(c) If equipment for an activity is very expensive

(e.g. sports equipment or musical instrument) consideration will be given to paying for this; assuming the child/young person has shown a commitment to the activity over several weeks.

(d) If carers need additional financial support to enable them to meet the needs of more complex children/young people or larger sibling groups. This can be considered as part of a support plan (e.g. recommendation from a placement support meeting).

(e) Carers having to stay in hospital with a sick child/young person could claim subsistence.

(f) Where additional funding is needed to meet needs related to a child’s ethnicity (e.g. haircare and skincare).

(g) Carers should be advised about the availability of Carer’s Allowance from the DWP or the carer element of Universal Credit if caring for a child in receipt of middle or higher rate of DLA Care or either rate of PIP (daily living).

Glasses/contact lenses – the fostering allowance covers the first £50 per annum of purchasing or replacing glasses/contact lenses. Expenditure more than this may be reclaimed.

If the young person is aged 16 or 17, form ‘HC1 (SC)’ can be filled in for help with the cost. This form can be accessed on

https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcosts/Documents/2016/HC1-April-2016.pdf

Exceptional expenditure must be discussed and agreed with the Team Manager prior to making the request. Fostering social workers should itemise the expenditure fully on ContrOCC. All exceptional expenditure must be authorised by the Fostering Service Manager.

 

Overpayments

 

As payments are made two weeks in advance and two weeks in arrears carers may have already received the payment if a child leaves the placement in an emergency. If this occurs the overpayment will be automatically deducted from the carers’ next payment where there is a payment available to do so. Where there are no current further payments due, a letter will be sent to you to advise of the overpaid amount and repayment is expected immediately.

For any other overpayments the carer should contact Serco Foster Carer Payments (contact details can be found on payment remittance advice) to arrange repayment immediately. The remittance advice clearly states what the payment covers, including child/young person’s name(s) and placement dates.

In both cases the carer should notify their Supervising Social Worker upon realising an overpayment has been made as in some cases the worker will need to take corrective actions for the overpayment to materialise on the payments system.

It is an offence to spend money that you are not legally entitled to.

10. SHARED CARE

Shared care is a family/community based short break service provided to disabled children and young people; the care may be in the carer’s home, the child’s home or out in the community supporting young people to undertake activities. Most shared carers are volunteers who receive a small allowance to meet expenses incurred. All shared carers have received training and are carefully matched to ensure they are able to meet the needs of the young person placed.

Information about Shared Care as part of short break local offer

Information about becoming a Shared Carer

Shared Care can also be provided as part of a package of care to children and young people who have received an assessment by the 0-25 together service. Services provided following an assessment could be overnight stays with a carer family, day care or sitting depending on what is assessed as best meeting the needs of the child.

Types of shared care:

The Shared Care Service Volunteers deliver day care and sitting services to disabled children and their families. The service also provides approved foster carer shared carers who deliver overnight support. The payment structure for shared care is detail in section A below.

Shared Care-Plus Carers provide multiple placements (pro rata) to young people with complex needs or who have significant medical needs. These Foster Carers receive an enhanced skills-based payment outlined at section B below.

A – Payment structure for Shared Care Volunteer Carers.

All shared carers are paid the same re-imbursement rate to cover expenses – this includes out of pocket expenses for activities, food and drink and other household disposables and recognises that there may be additional wear and tear on a carers home, equipment, vehicle, clothing etc. The re-imbursement rate is £8.50 per hour between 7am and 7pm, up to an agreed package for the individual placement and paid retrospectively after each visit has taken place. Carers who provide overnight placements can also claim a single re-imbursement payment of £36.82 for each night that care is offered between 7pm and 7am - for the number of nights agreed and again as a retrospective claim.

Other expenses will be considered but must be agreed before purchase and a receipt for goods retained for submission with the carers claim. Car mileage should be agreed as part of the package in advance.

See Appendix 5 for claim forms CSF9627 (shared care) and CSF9627A (shared care plus).

Claim forms should be sent by post to Brokerage Support Team (West) Post Point APS2004,

Hertfordshire County Council - Children's Services, Apsley Campus, Brindley Way Hemel Hempstead HP3 9BF or emailed to;

BrokerageFinance.West@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Claims should reach the finance department by 15th of the month for the preceding month of care to then be paid by that month end, i.e. claims for January should be submitted by February 15th and would be paid at the end of February.

B – Payment structure for Shared care plus carer – (payment for skills) 2020-2021

Shared Care Plus Carers are paid £22,911 per annum (pro-rata) as a payment for skills which includes a scheduled annual leave payment. They also receive a further maintenance payment per session based on the age of the child.

The session rates are:

Age range   Total per session

0 - 4 years

 

 £20.81

5 - 10 years

 

£23.57

 11 - 15 years

 

£36.26

16+

 

£42.19

Sessions are: 7am- 3pm, 3pm -11pm and overnight or part thereof.

Shared care plus claim forms should also be submitted to brokerage finance by 15th of each month as above – Additional expenses are agreed and claimed as above in the same way as the volunteer carers – All purchases or mileage must be agreed beforehand, and receipts submitted with claims for re-imbursement.

Larger orders for required equipment i.e. furniture or car seats can be purchased by the team and supplied to the carer.

11. YOUNG PEOPLE IN FOSTER CARE WHO ARE WORKING

From the end of academic school year eleven (usually June in the year of a young person’s sixteenth birthday) until their eighteenth birthday, young people living in foster care placements can retain a net income of £87.00 per week before adjustments are made to their allowances or contributions are required. This principle is intended to act as an incentive for young people to be involved in education, training and/or employment. The aim of adjusting allowances is to develop budgeting and money management skills in preparation for adulthood enabling young people in becoming accustomed to making payments for rent and bills.

The £87.00 threshold is calculated from the sum of the clothing £22.24), pocket money £13.60) and 16-19-year-old bursary (if applicable - £1,200.00 per year, which equates to £40.00 per week in term-time) allowances plus earnings from part or full-time employment.

Young people will continue to receive their weekly pocket money and clothing allowances until a net income of £87.00 reached. When the threshold is reached, young people will be required to complete a Financial Assessment Form with their Social Worker or foster carer. Young people should add their net income (from the list below), minus any fares/costs related to study and/or work. When the total after adjustments for fares/costs is higher than £87.00, a third of the amount over £87.00 is set as the young person’s contribution.

The pocket money and clothing allowance reduction will be deducted from the foster carer allowance and if the required amount is over the combined pocket money and clothing allowance the excess amount should be paid directly to Hertfordshire County Council. Foster carers should acknowledge the reduction in pocket money and clothing allowance and any payment made to HCC by providing a “rent book” as proof of reduction/payment.

The following payments are considered as income:

  • Pocket money
  • Clothing allowance
  • 16-19-year-old bursary scheme
  • Wages and salary from part or full-time employment
  • Traineeship allowance
  • Modern apprenticeship allowance

Lone parents (aged 16 or 17) receiving Income Support, Universal Credit (UC), Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit and sick and disabled young people (aged 16 or 17) claiming Employment and Support Allowance or UC cease to receive pocket money and clothing allowance when the benefit is being paid.

Universal Credit replaced Income Support, Child Tax Credit and ESA for new claims during 2018 (with one exception relating to severely disabled young people). Existing claimants of the replaced benefits may not be transferred until 2021 or later, unless they have a major change of circumstances.

Young people receiving these benefits are unlikely to be working (unless in receipt of universal credit) and therefore will not make contributions.

To assist a young person with making a successful transition to education or employment and managing their income, they will not be expected to have a pocket money or clothing reduction or make any contributions until they have completed six weeks of employment. A young person will need to provide proof of income for his/her Social Worker to calculate any contributions.

If proof of income is not forthcoming, it will be assumed that earnings are exceeding £122.84 (£87.00 + £13.60 + £22.24) net per week and therefore pocket money and clothing allowance will be suspended until proof is provided.

Example 1:

Pocket money

£13.60

Clothing allowance

£22.24

16-19 Bursary

£40.00

Earnings

£17.00

Total

£92.84

Costs associated with employment (Travel, lunch etc.)

minus £9.50

£83.34


Pocket money/clothing allowance reduction/contribution

Example 2:

Pocket money

£13.60

Clothing allowance

£22.24

16-19 Bursary

£40.00

Earnings

£50.00

Total

£125.84

Costs associated with employment (Travel, lunch etc.)

minus £16.84

Total after adjustment                                                                                £109.00

Amount to be considered (£109.00 minus £87.00)                                   £22.00

Reduction/contribution amount (⅓ of £22.00)                                             £7.33

Pocket money/clothing allowance reduction/contribution             £7.33

Young person retains an actual income of: £125.84 before costs - £101.67 after adjustments and employment related costs


Information for Young People and Reduction/Payment Process

Young people should be issued with a Contributions Notice setting out the following:

  1. The level of reduction of their allowance(s)
  2. The level of their contribution
  3. When the reduction or contribution will commence
  4. How the reduction will be made or how the contribution will be collected
  5. What the young person can do if their circumstances change
  6. What the young person can do if they do not agree with the assessed reduction or contribution.

12. SAVINGS, JUNIOR ISA’S, CHILD TRUST FUNDS AND BANK/SAVINGS ACCOUNTS

All children who have been looked after for more than 28 days [backdated to day 0 where looked after for more than 28 days] are allocated a savings allowance. The savings are placed in an interest-bearing account (WBS account) for the first 52 weeks of being looked after. These savings are managed centrally by the Brokerage Support Service.

After 52 weeks, the savings are transferred to a Junior Individual Savings Account (Junior ISA) * which is administered by The Share Foundation and set up with an initial deposit of £200.00 by the government. (*Children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 were entitled to a Child Trust Fund and will not be entitled to a Junior ISA).

It is recommended that all children have a savings account once they reach the age of 7. They should be supported to use the account to save elements of their pocket money and in order to develop money management skills. Children from the age of 7 can set up a savings account without requiring a named and managing adult sponsor. Keyworkers and foster carers are provided with guidance on the process for assisting children to set up a savings account. Prior to the young person’s 18th birthday, support is provided to open a bank (current) account depending on the type of savings account the young person already has.

Guidance is also provided to staff, foster carers, keyworkers and young people on the process for transferring the Junior ISA and any other savings to the young person as they reach the age of 18 and managing/transferring savings where the young person lacks ‘Capacity’.

In situations where a foster carer is unable to act as the child/young person’s Benefit Appointee or where a child/young person is placed in a residential or other setting, their disability and other benefits and financial allowances can be managed by their Social Worker/keyworker via a WBS account set up and overseen by the Brokerage Service.

13. CRIMINAL INJURIES COMPENSATION AWARDS (CICA) AND TRUST ARRANGEMENTS

The guidance regarding CICA is split into two components:

a) The process for deciding on the viability of making a CICA application and the application process when a child/young person becomes looked after

b) The process of supporting the child/young person to manage the award and the process for setting up a Discretionary Trust Fund and/or transferring the award to the young person.

The guidance also covers the arrangements for overseeing high value trusts for individual children and young people and the terms of reference for the Children’s Services Financial Planning Panel (Children Looked After and Care Leavers) [CSFPP] that approve ‘high value’ arrangements.

14. BENEFITS ARRANGEMENTS AND PROTOCOLS WITH THE DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS (DWP)

A looked after child’s Benefits Officer is based within the Brokerage Team and supports children and young people to make and manage their benefits claims, including disability benefit claims. The Benefits Officer has a range of information leaflets and guidance to support their work which is available to young people, staff and carers. To support the claim, process a range of standard and approved letter templates are available. In addition, protocols have been agreed with the DWP and Housing Benefit Departments regarding care leaver claims and sharing information. The Money Advice Unit in ACS is also a source of advice and information about benefit claims

15. INFORMATION AND LEAFLETS FOR STAFF, CARERS AND YOUNG PEOPLE

To ensure that children and young people are aware of their entitlements a range of leaflets has been produced:

See Useful Documents Tab to access the following leaflets:

  • Money Matters 0 to 18 Year Olds;
  • Money Matters 16- and 17-Year olds – Living in Semi-Independence/ Independent Accommodation and Supported Lodgings
  • Money Matters – Young People Aged 18 Plus;
  • Failed Asylum Seekers Reaching the Age of 18 with No Recourse to Public Funds;
  • Accommodation (and Funding) Options for Children Looked After & Care Leavers Aged 16 and Older;
  • Staying Put – A Guide for Young People;

For Further information please contact the Supervising Social Worker

  • Setting Up Home Allowance (SUHA) – A Guide for Young People;

The following leaflets also provide guidance to staff and foster carers.

To ensure foster carers (and staff) are aware of the process of supporting children and young people a range of leaflets is available focused on the information they require:

For Further information please contact the Supervising Social Worker

For further information contact

CSFinancialPlanningPanel@hertfordshire.gov.uk


15.1 Children’s Services - Financial Planning Panel (Children Looked After and Care Leavers)

In any circumstances where a child/young person has or will have assets of £6,000.00 or more, the case should be presented to the CS Financial Planning Panel - CLA & CL (CSFPP). Assets would include; savings, Criminal Injuries Awards, trust funds, inheritances and legacies. The purpose of the CSFPP is to ensure that suitable arrangements are in place to support the child/young person to manage the asset fully and/or manage the asset on behalf of the child until they become an adult and to consider longer term management arrangements and options. The membership of the CSFPP includes representatives from legal services, money advice, financial services, social care (case and placement team), senior management and where appropriate adult services. The CSFPP meetings are held monthly.

16. CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

Managing Disability Benefits (DLA, PIP, ESA, UC, HB, Appointeeship and Capacity).

It is important that if you are looking after a child receiving DLA/PIP/ESA/UC you have access to Section 5.11.2 of the Hertfordshire Childcare Procedures (ask your Supervising Social Worker for a copy). If carers are looking after a child in receipt of DLA/PIP/ESA/UC, a separate account should be opened in the carers name to manage the DLA/PIP/ESA/UC. This money should be used by the carer in consultation with their Supervising Social Worker and the child’s Social Worker.

The Supervising Social Worker, with assistance from the child’s Social Worker and brokerage Benefits Officer, will ensure that any relevant disability benefits are claimed e.g. Disability Living Allowance (DLA) if under 16 and Personal Independent Payment (PIP) and ESA/UC if 16 or over  Regular discussion should take place between them as to how this money should be used – see Detailed Guidance.  

16.1 Young people aged 16 or over can claim Universal Credit in their own right if they are medically unfit for work even if looked-after. If in education, they also need to be in receipt of DLA/PIP.

16.2 Benefits need to be taken into account when assessing exceptional expenditure. Team Managers (Children’s Services Social Work Teams) should discuss these cases with the Fostering Team Manager. Check with the Money Advice Unit for details, changes and updates on benefits. Foster carers should keep a record of their use of DLA/PIP discussed and recorded in supervision. Using the Outcome Bee’s – Disability benefits Quarterly Expenditure Monitoring and Audit Sheet.

16.3 DLA (care) or PIP (daily living) – will not be taken into account when assessing fostering allowances. However, in respect of exceptional expenditure and enhanced payment schemes, the use of DLA (care) or PIP (daily living) will be considered. In the first instance DLA/PIP should be used to provide for additional needs, related to the child’s disability. Any money being spent from the DLA/PIP should be done in discussion with the supervising social worker. See link at point 16 above covering the use of DLA/PIP/ UC.

16.4 DLA (mobility) and PIP (mobility) – may not, by law, be considered as a source of income for a means-tested scheme. However, where Hertfordshire County Council is supporting the costs of a vehicle specifically for a disabled child, the mobility payment will be considered when calculating the amount of additional financial support to be provided (I.e. where a foster carer (on behalf of the child) has a Motability car, they will receive the lease car mileage rate.

16.5 Once a young person reaches the age of 16 they can receive DLA in their own right until a re-assessment claim for PIP has to be made. It is important that at this point that discussion takes place with the young person's social worker and Brokerage Benefits Officer to establish how this money is managed by the young person, whether an appointee is required and whether they need appropriate advice on money management (subject to a capacity assessment).

16.6 Supervising social workers must ensure that foster carers caring for children with disabilities are given adequate support (via the Brokerage Benefits Officer) in claiming DLA/PIP/UC and that they receive the applicable increase in any other benefit they claim as a result. A foster carer looking after a child getting DLA (care) or PIP (daily living) may be due carers allowance for example. Contact the Money Advice Unit for more information. MAU factsheets are available on DLA, PIP, Carers Allowance, UC, and Fostering and Adoption www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/benefits

16.7 DLA (care) can be claimed from birth and Disability Living Allowance (mobility) from 3+. PIP can be claimed from age 16, when DLA will be re-assessed. ESA and Universal Credit paid based on fitness for work can be claimed from age 16, whether the young person is looked-after or not, and whether in education or not (although PIP also needs to be in payment if the young person is in education).

16.8 Where foster carers are the benefit appointee for a child with disabilities, a ‘Capacity’ assessment may need to be undertaken by the CLA or 0-25 Service for children aged 16 and over in relation to their ability to manage their own money and benefit claim.

17. FOSTER CARERS SHOULD USE FN024C ‘PLACEMENT EXPENDITURE – MONITORING AND AUDIT SHEET’

17.1 We require foster carers to make use of the FN024C monitoring form so that foster carers can keep receipts of expenditure for their own income tax and financial purposes.

17.2 The purpose of the form is to demonstrate how the allowances provided for the needs of the child/young person have been used and what items have been purchased. All expenditure should be recorded (in brief) on the Monitoring and Audit Sheet and set out whether the allowances have been provided in the form of purchased items, cash or in a different way. Information should include all allowances for example;

  • what items of clothing have been purchased;
  • how pocket money has been provided; and
  • how birthday and festival allowance have been used or provided.

17.3 This is required for monitoring and audit purposes and to ensure that children and young people have received their full entitlement for each financial year, particularly when they move between placements. The Supervising Social Worker will check and sign the ‘Placement Expenditure - Monitoring and Audit Sheet’ in supervision to ensure that the allowances are being used to meet the needs of the child/young person in a flexible manner.

17.4 The Supervising Social Worker will only take away receipts for items over £50 so that these can be copied and scanned to the carers file.

Decisions regarding how the allowances are to be used and in what form they are provided should be agreed within the care planning/pathway planning/placement plan process and agreed between the child/young person, their foster carer and the Supervising Social Worker, Social Worker and Independent Reviewing Officer.

17.5 Where a child/young person is also in receipt of any of the below and the foster carer is acting as the child/young person’s ‘Benefit Appointee’ (managing the benefits on behalf of the child/young person), the Supervising Social Worker should check and approve the ‘Disability Benefits Expenditure – Monitoring and Audit Sheet’ FN024D at the same time as the ‘Placement Expenditure – Monitoring and Audit Sheet’ FN024C

  • Disability Living Allowance (Care or Mobility);
  • Personal Independence Payment (Care or Mobility);
  • Universal Credit

Note: Foster carers are likely to be the best placed person to act as the child/young person benefit appointee and are the preferred choice of appointee.

17.6 In principle all DLA/PIP should be used to meet any disability needs of the child/young person and all Universal Credit (16 & 17-year olds) should be used to meet any day-to-day needs; once Universal Credit is in payment; pocket money and clothing allowances cease. How the DLA/PIP/ Universal Credit is to be used should be agreed by using the Guidance on the use of DLA/PIP/ UC Outcome Bees Framework, which involves the foster carer, Supervising Social Worker and Social worker. The use and intended outcomes should be then set out in the child/young person’s placement plan. Only in exceptional circumstances should any unused or accrued DLA/PIP/UC be added to the child/young person’s Junior ISA.

 

17.7 Foster carers should also record all disability benefit expenditure and retain receipts/copies of receipts for their records. Supervising Social Workers should copy the approved ‘Disability Benefits Expenditure -Monitoring and Audit Sheet’, place a copy on the foster carer’s file and send another to the child/young person’s Social Worker who should place it on the child/young person’s LCS case file (with copies of receipts if expenditure is over £50.00).

 

17.8 Foster carers are also reminded that it is their responsibility to retain their Hertfordshire remittance advice payments sheets for income tax and National Insurance purposes.

18. TAXATION

All carers should on approval receive a leaflet from Hertfordshire County Council outlining in more detail the current tax position. This leaflet will be distributed as and when there are any significant changes. It is advised that you keep this leaflet safe so that you can refer to it if needed. If you do not have a copy of this leaflet speak to your Supervising Social Worker who will ensure one is sent to you. This is a Fostering Network leaflet on Income Tax and National Insurance. There is also a factsheet on Foster Care Tax and Benefits available from the Money Advice Unit via www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/benefits.  

 

18.1 For taxation purposes, HMRC classify foster carers as self-employed and consider the total gross income from fostering, including expenses. Carers are exempt from taxation on their fostering income where their gross income from fostering is below a threshold known as ‘Qualifying Care Relief’, plus any unused standard tax personal allowance (maximum of £12,500 in 2020/2021). QCR is based on the number and ages of the children who are fostered. Carers should register as self-employed with HMRC and complete an annual tax return.

 

18.2 The threshold consists of two elements:

i) A fixed amount of £10,000 per annum (or pro-rata if approved for less than a year)

ii) An additional amount per child of: iii) £200 per week for a child aged under 11

iv) £250 per week for a child aged over 11 (including Staying Put)

Note: Figures as per HM Revenue & Customs (March 2019). HMRC produce a self- instruction online pack aimed at foster carers, covering the ‘qualifying care relief’ and National Insurance issues.

See: www.hmrc.gov.uk/courses/syob/fc/HTML/fc_101.html


18.3
The foster carer must calculate their qualifying care relief threshold which is £10,000 per annum for the carer plus the relevant amount per week for each child they care for. If their total income from fostering is equal to or less than the threshold, all payments are exempt from taxation. This is the most common situation. In addition, if the carer has no other paid employment or self-employment, the normal personal tax allowance of £12,500 a year (2019/20), or any remaining balance of it, can also be added to the qualifying care relief threshold. If two people in the household share the fostering receipts, the £10,000 is shared equally, as are the individual weekly additions.

 

18.4 If payments are more than the qualifying care threshold plus any personal tax allowance, the carer can choose between:

(a) paying tax on the total receipts more than the threshold (without any separate relief for allowable expenses or capital allowances). This is known as the simplified method, or

(b) paying tax on the actual profit from foster care, worked out by calculating gross income, minus actual expenses and capital allowances.


18.5
Foster carers are advised to look at their own tax position and if necessary take advice from HMRC if they are in any doubt about how this affects them, or which taxation option to choose if tax is payable. Those carers who have previously negotiated individual agreements with HMRC are strongly advised to review this situation. Hertfordshire County Council cannot advise generally on how those may be affected.


18.6 We advise carers to keep details of all children placed with them over the year, particularly noting their ages and dates of placement, and a record of all income and expenditure. This is particularly important in relation to exceptional expenditure and providing day care.

See GOV.UK site to access the Qualifying Care Relief for Carers (Self-Assessment Help Sheet) for information regarding how to get certain payments tax-free for foster carers, adult placement carers, kinship carers and staying put carers.

18.7 As foster carers are ‘self-employed’ those who are below pensionable age should also register as such with HMRC for National Insurance purposes and possibly pay Class 2 contributions (£3.05 per week for 2020/21). However, if profits from fostering are below £6,475 (2020/2021) a year – known as the Small Profits Threshold -, foster carers can choose not to pay Class 2 contributions. Class Two contributions, even if paid voluntarily, can help towards pension entitlement (but see below). If Class 2 contributions are due, they are now collected via the tax code and not as a separate payment.

 

18.8 A link to the Money Advice Unit’s “Benefits and Tax for Foster Carers” and useful advice on tax, benefits and National Insurance can be found here:www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/benefits

19. FOSTER CARER’S CREDIT AND ENTITLEMENT TO STATE PENSIONS

19.1 A ‘carers credit’ (formerly known as Home Responsibilities Protection) for National Insurance is available to foster carers. This may benefit their State retirement pension entitlement.

19.2 If you're claiming credits for caring for a child, you can apply using CF411A (available on www.hmrc.gov.uk if you're an approved foster carer or family/friends connected carer). You'll need to send a letter of confirmation with your application form which you can get from the Fostering Team.

20. INSURANCE COVER AND EX-GRATIA PAYMENTS

Foster carers need to inform their insurers that they are foster carers. Fostering Network can offer advice on insurance

20.1 Foster carers should first make a claim on their own insurance cover for loss or damage caused by a foster child. We strongly advise that foster carers seek out insurance cover that covers at least accidental damage caused by foster children and we are aware that some companies offer this at a small extra cost. If the claim is not accepted, the foster carer may in exceptional circumstances claim against Hertfordshire County Council policy. An ex-gratia payment may be made where Hertfordshire County Council policy does not cover the claim.

20.2 For all claims for loss or damage, whether insured or ex-gratia, the following rules apply:

(a) The Fostering Team should be informed immediately after the incident or loss has occurred as this will need verifying by the Supervising Social Worker, unless the damage is not discovered until later and there is good reason for this. If the Fostering Team is not informed immediately the payment may not be made.

(b) Where a claim is likely to cost over £1,000, the Supervising Social Worker will provide an insurance claim form. Where the claim is likely to cost less than £1,000, the Supervising Social Worker will provide the ex-gratia payment claim form (‘FN024B’). The carer must provide details of the damage and how caused to establish a claim on the ex-gratia payments budget.

(c) Each incident is claimed separately at the time of the damage or loss. Carers should not make accumulated claims for large amounts.

(d) The carer should submit two estimates for repairs on headed note paper from bona fide businesses for comparability, together with evidence of cost when new if the claim is to replace an item which they purchased.

All insurance and ex-gratia claims must be submitted to the Fostering Team

Manager who will pass the claim to the Service Manager, Fostering, for authorisation and forwarding to the Insurance Department where applicable.

 

20.3 Hertfordshire County Council insurance cover is as follows:

(a) Property all risks: limit £250,000

(b) Public liability: legal liability to third parties for accidental loss or damage to property of injury, disease or death.

(c) Employer’s liability: The County Council's liability to employees (including foster carers) for death, injury or disease.

Legal protection: cover for prosecution defence costs, personal legal advice and domestic assistance. Limit of £25,000.

PART TWO – PLACEMENTS & CARER SICKNESS

1. NUMBER OF PLACEMENTS

1.1 Each household is approved for several children to a maximum of 3 children (or more if one sibling group). The Fostering Panel specifies this at the time of approval. Changes can be made by review and must be agreed by the Agency Decision Maker.

1.2 In special circumstances a short-term variation of approval or exemption can be agreed. For further information please contact your Supervising Social Worker.

1.3 For payments in respect of annual leave, complex placement, 'bed-blockers', and disputes, payment is based on the number of places and level approved by Panel. This includes exemptions agreed by Panel but not short-term exemptions. For 'annual leave' purposes – where a place is available for respite only, payments will be made at 50% of the approved skills payment.

1.4 Level 3 foster carers will be approved for a maximum of 2 placements due to the complex nature of this work.

2. TIMINGS AND ACCEPTANCE OF PLACEMENTS

2.1 Placements will be made within the terms of the carer's approval. If personal commitments make this difficult it should be noted when they are approved at panel or at the annual review. Any change in circumstances for the carer and their family, which could affect the carer's acceptance of placements needs to be notified as soon as possible to their supervising social worker or duty worker.

2.2 In certain exceptional circumstances, foster carers, within the terms of their approval, may feel unable to accept certain placements. Their reasons for this will need to be explored, as fostering service staff will be monitoring vacancies e.g. length and reason for vacancy and reporting on them.

3. SICKNESS

3.1 When the carer is approved at panel, the arrangements for covering sickness should be discussed. Typically, the carer's family or network will assist so that a child can remain in placement. If this is not possible, other back up arrangements with another foster carer should be made.

PART 3 – FURTHER INFORMATION

For all placements the parent, child or both must be CLA.

1. PARENT AND CHILD

1.1 If the child is CLA by their nature ‘parent and child’ placements are complex and if there are significant safeguarding concerns would only be considered with carers who have undertaken specific relevant training.

It is anticipated that in these circumstances the child will be CLA.

The foster carer will receive one payment for skills at their level of approval and an allowance for both. The allowance for the parent (if not CLA) will have to be claimed via exceptional expenditure.

If the parent is CLA

If the parent is CLA the carer will receive a payment for skills for the parent (at their current level) and an allowance for both. It is anticipated in these circumstances that there will be no serious safeguarding concerns and the parent just needs additional support.

The allowance paid to the foster carers directly should be adjusted according to the income of the parent and decisions about the respective responsibilities of the parent and foster carers; the latter must be set out clearly in the placement plan.

Guiding principles:

  • The parent should take what responsibility they can for budgeting etc. This includes providing for him/herself and child as far as possible from his/her own income. This income should include Child Benefit (regardless of age), Universal Credit (if aged 16 or over) and thee Universal Credit Housing Cost Element (if aged 18 or over).
  • Foster carers must not be out of pocket if they must take over responsibility from the parent.

1.2  Expectations that financial agreements for the parent and child will be set out in the placement plan and agreed by all parties. At the first review these payments should be reviewed.

1.3  Where it is agreed that the parent can make a contribution for him/herself and/or the child, the maintenance payment to the foster carer will be reduced. The payment for skills will not be reduced and should be paid for both parent and child. The casework planning and supervision process will monitor the progress of these arrangements.

2. BENEFIT ENTITLEMENT

2.1 The parent, regardless of her age, income or care status, can claim child benefit. If parent is 16 or over, she/he should have been able to also claim universal credit (whether in education or not and regardless of the parent’s or child’s care status)

2.2 If the parent is working, (they would now be eligible to claim universal credit, no matter how few hours they work. UC varies according to the amount earned each month.  

In either of the above scenario’s the parent will also be entitled to help with health costs (prescriptions, dental treatment, etc.). For more information about this, telephone Freephone 0800 555 777 and ask for leaflet HC1 (SC).

2.3 For those aged 16 or over, there is a national minimum wage. For details seehttps://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates  

2.4 Any maintenance the parent gets is ignored when working out his/her income for UC purposes.

2.5 Housing costs

Whilst in foster care, the young parent will not be entitled to universal credit towards 'rent'. However, once out of care, e.g. at age 18, universal credit for housing costs can be claimed by young people even if they stay on with their former foster carers. The only exception would be if the young person moves into formal “supported accommodation” in which case housing benefit would still be possible.

3. LUMP SUM AND OTHER PAYMENTS

3.1 A parent getting universal credit will also qualify for a £500 sure start maternity grant from the DWP’s social fund. A claim, on form SF100, can be made up to 11 weeks before the child's expected date of birth or up to six months after the birth. These grants are only made if the claimant has no other child aged below 16.

3.2 Healthy Start vouchers (for fruit, vegetables, vitamins and milk) are also available   https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/ as are Care to Learn payments to help with the cost of child care for young people in educationhttps://www.gov.uk/care-to-learn.

3.3 A 16-19 bursary payment of £1,200 a year is payable to young people who are a CLA or care-leaver or a parent if in full time non-advanced education. This bursary does not affect universal credit. See https://www.gov.uk/1619-bursary-fund/overview

An Apprenticeship bursary payment of £1,000 is payable to young people who are a CLA or care-leaver and are commencing an approved Apprenticeship

4. CHARGES

4.1 If the parent is in receipt of Universal Credit he/she cannot be asked by the County Council for a contribution to their accommodation or maintenance costs, of the baby or herself. This is part of the Children Act 1989.

4.2 If the parent is not receiving UC, he/she may be asked to contribute to these costs, depending on who is looked after (the requirement to make charges is discretionary). However, the contribution must be reasonable and consider what he/she can realistically afford.

5. DISABILITY BENEFITS

5.1 Lone parents who are disabled have the same right to DLA/PIP as other looked after young people. The only exception would be if they were living in a residential care home for people with disabilities. In these circumstances, seek advice from the money advice unit.

5.2 A lone parent who has limited capacity for work would be able to claim Universal Credit on that basis instead of as a lone parent.

5.3 Any money that the parent receives from HCC as Section 17/24 payments is fully disregarded in working out entitlement to UC.

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