Foster Carer Jobs in the UK: Roles, Responsibilities, and Financial Considerations

Foster carers play a crucial role in the UK, providing safe, nurturing homes for children who cannot live with their birth families. This article explores the role of foster carers, the process of becoming a foster carer, the responsibilities involved, and the financial considerations, including approximate salary ranges.

The Role of Foster Carers

Foster carers provide temporary homes for children and young people who, for various reasons, cannot stay with their birth families. This can include children who have experienced neglect, abuse, or family breakdown. The aim of foster care is to provide stability, care, and support, enabling children to thrive in a safe environment until they can return to their families, move on to adoption, or transition to independent living.

Foster carers work with social workers, educators, and health professionals to meet the needs of the children in their care. They offer emotional support, help with education and development, and provide day-to-day care. The role is challenging but rewarding, offering the chance to make a significant difference in a child’s life.

Becoming a Foster Carer

The process of becoming a foster carer in the UK involves several steps:

  1. Initial Inquiry: Interested individuals or families contact their local council or a fostering agency to express interest in fostering. They receive information about the role and the application process.
  2. Initial Home Visit: A social worker visits the applicant’s home to discuss fostering in more detail and assess the suitability of the living environment.
  3. Application Form: Applicants complete a detailed form, providing information about their background, experience, and motivations for fostering.
  4. Assessment Process: This involves several stages, including background checks, medical examinations, and interviews. The assessment evaluates the applicant’s ability to provide a safe and supportive environment for children.
  5. Training: Prospective foster carers undergo training to prepare them for the responsibilities of fostering. Training covers topics such as child development, trauma, and attachment.
  6. Approval Panel: The assessment report is presented to an independent fostering panel, which makes a recommendation about the applicant’s suitability to foster.
  7. Approval and Matching: Once approved, foster carers are matched with children who need their care. The matching process considers the needs of the child and the skills and experience of the foster carer.

Responsibilities of Foster Carers

Foster carers have numerous responsibilities, including:

  1. Providing a Safe Environment: Ensuring that the home is safe and suitable for children.
  2. Meeting Basic Needs: Providing food, clothing, and healthcare.
  3. Supporting Education: Helping with homework and liaising with schools.
  4. Emotional Support: Offering emotional and psychological support to help children cope with their experiences.
  5. Promoting Contact: Facilitating contact between the child and their birth family, where appropriate.
  6. Record Keeping: Maintaining records of the child’s progress and any incidents.
  7. Attending Meetings: Participating in meetings with social workers and other professionals involved in the child’s care.
  8. Training and Development: Engaging in ongoing training to develop skills and knowledge.

Financial Considerations and Salary Range

Fostering is not typically considered a job but rather a vocation; however, foster carers do receive financial support and allowances to cover the costs of caring for a child. The financial support is intended to cover expenses such as food, clothing, transport, and activities.

The financial remuneration for foster carers in the UK varies depending on several factors, including the type of fostering, the age and needs of the child, and the fostering agency or local authority. Here’s an overview of the financial aspects:

  1. Fostering Allowance: All foster carers receive a fostering allowance to cover the cost of looking after a child. The amount varies but typically ranges from £150 to £260 per week, per child. Higher rates may be available for children with additional needs or for specialist types of fostering.
  2. Fee or Skill Payment: In addition to the fostering allowance, many foster carers receive a fee or skill payment in recognition of their professional role. This fee can vary significantly, but experienced carers may receive between £200 and £450 per week.
  3. Tax Relief and Benefits: Foster carers benefit from a tax relief system, which means that a significant portion of their fostering income is tax-free. Carers can earn up to £10,000 per year (the “qualifying care relief”), plus an additional tax-free allowance of £200 per week for each child under 11, and £250 per week for each child over 11. Foster carers may also be eligible for other benefits, depending on their circumstances.

Types of Fostering

There are different types of fostering, each with its own financial considerations:

  1. Short-term Fostering: Providing temporary care until a child can return home or move to a permanent placement. Allowances typically range from £150 to £260 per week.
  2. Long-term Fostering: Caring for a child until they reach adulthood. Similar allowance rates apply, but with potential for additional payments for the commitment and stability offered.
  3. Specialist Fostering: For children with complex needs or disabilities. This type often comes with higher allowances and fees, potentially exceeding £450 per week.
  4. Emergency Fostering: Providing care at short notice for a brief period. Payments can be higher due to the urgent nature of the placement.
  5. Parent and Child Fostering: Supporting a young parent and their child. This specialist type of fostering can attract higher payments, often in the range of £400 to £700 per week.

Challenges and Rewards

Fostering can be challenging due to the emotional and behavioral issues that many children in care face. Foster carers must be resilient, patient, and empathetic. They need to manage complex relationships and navigate the foster care system, which can sometimes be bureaucratic and demanding.

Despite these challenges, fostering is deeply rewarding. Foster carers make a profound difference in the lives of vulnerable children, offering them stability, support, and the opportunity to thrive. Many foster carers find immense satisfaction in helping children overcome their difficulties and achieve their potential.


Foster carer jobs in the UK are vital to providing support and stability for children in need. The process of becoming a foster carer involves thorough assessment and training, and the role comes with significant responsibilities. While financial considerations are important, the primary motivation for many foster carers is the desire to make a positive impact on the lives of children.

Foster carers receive financial support through allowances and fees, with total payments ranging from approximately £350 to £710 per week, depending on the type of fostering and the needs of the child. The role of a foster carer is challenging but immensely rewarding, offering the chance to provide a nurturing environment for children who need it most.