Achieving for Children

Fees and allowances policies 2021-22

Introduction

This document sets out the framework of financial support foster carers receive from the Achieving for Children (AfC) Fostering Service. It details the allowances and fees that will be paid to carers and how this money is expected to be used. Foster carers receive these allowances to cover the cost of caring for a child. It also explains the circumstances in which additional payments will be made. The Department for Education (DfE) sets guidelines on the rates of these payments every April.

In 2020, Windsor and Maidenhead branch joined Kingston and Richmond in collecting looked after savings for children and young people at source. This ensures that the savings are held in a central location for a young person to access when they turn 18 years. This is managed by the finance departments within the boroughs in which the young person is cared for.

Fostering allowances

Overview

In this section you will find details regarding placement payments to foster carers which relates weekly allowance and additional payments for complexity placements, and alternative to residential placements payment.

Payments to foster carers in Kingston and Richmond

Fostering allowances in Kingston and Richmond are set in line with DfE minimum weekly allowance guidelines for London Boroughs. They will change in April of each year according to the rates set by the DfE for that financial year. The rates set by the DfE can be found on their website.

In the financial year 2021/22, foster carers in Kingston and Richmond will receive the following fostering allowances.

Age of child in years Total weekly payment direct to foster carer per week per child (£)* Breakdown of daily rate for weekly payment per child (£)
0-2 155.00 22.14
3-4 158.00 22.58
5-10 177.00 25.28
11-15 201.00 28.71
16+ 235.00 33.57

Payments to foster carers in Windsor and Maidenhead

Fostering allowances in Windsor and Maidenhead are set in line with the rates set by the DfE for the South East. They will change in April of each year according to the rates set by the DfE for that financial year. The rates set by the DfE can be found on their website.

In the financial year 2021/22, foster carers in Windsor and Maidenhead will receive the following fostering allowances.

Age of child in years Total weekly payment direct to foster carer per week per child (£)* Breakdown of daily rate for weekly payment per child (£)
0-2 149.00 21.28
3-4 153.00 21.85
5-10 169.00 24.14
11-15 189.00 27.00
16+ 226.00 32.28

*Total weekly allowance to the carer: this is related to the daily care needs of a child in placement and covers all general needs and supports for the child. Anything outside this is outlined further on this page.

Holiday allowance

Overview

All children in the care of foster carers at Achieving for Children are entitled to an annual holiday allowance of up to ‘four weeks’ which is made up of weekly age-related allowance, paid pro rata until a young persons 18th birthday. The holiday allowance is an allowance primarily for looked after children who are going on holiday with their foster carers. The allowance is calculated on the age of the child at the 1st April each year. Discussions will take place with the supervising social worker and allocated child social worker around any necessary agreements (for example oversees holiday agreement, risk assessments) and to confirm details of the trip.

The payments will be processed twice a year: end of May/first week of June and end of November/first week of December (depending on pay run dates), this is reflective of Summer and December holiday periods, this will be made up of 2 weeks of the weekly child allowance per period. The child needs to have been in foster placement for at least 8 weeks prior to the holiday allowance payment run for the payment to be processed. If a child/young person leaves the placement between the twice yearly payment, the payment will be made pro rata.

Should the carers wish to book a larger trip for the year, as a one-off holiday for the year, through agreement discussions of this holiday, a case-by-case agreement by fostering management could be made to have both payments for the year be to paid all at once to support this payment.

The focus of this payment is around supporting the child/young person in participating with ‘family’ holidays via attending family trips. It can be discretionary on how this looks on an individual basis, and this would take place through discussion with your supervising social worker and agreement with fostering management.

This is effective from April 2020 in Windsor and Maidenhead as well as Richmond and Kingston.

Review and monitoring

Payments are reviewed every six months by the Fostering Service to ensure correct payments are made.

Payments to foster carers in Kingston and Richmond

Age of child in years Yearly holiday allowance per child (£)
0-2 620 (2×310)
3-4 652 (2x 326)
5-10 708 (2×354)
11-15 804 (2×402)
16-17 940 (2×470)

Payments to foster carers in Windsor and Maidenhead

 Age of child in years  Yearly holiday allowance per child (£)
0-2 596 (2×298)
3-4 612 (2×306)
5-10 676 (2×338)
11-15 756 (2×378)
16+ 904 (2×452)

Paid respite

Overview

These payments should be seen as a reward for the foster carer’s ongoing commitment to provide stable and consistent care for the children. From 1 April 2020, all foster carers with children in short and long term placements at Achieving for Children will be entitled to ten days’ paid respite, paid at the carer reward fee rate. It is expected that foster carers will utilise respite through their back-up carers. All carers should have at least one approved back up carer. The child’s allowance and complexity would follow the child. Additional respite could be paid in exceptional cases if agreed by the Head of Fostering/Director of Social Care. We are still assessing our capacity to resource respite carers for foster carers who are not able to identify someone from their own support network but all carers will receive an additional ten days fee by the end of March 2021.

The count of days starts from the date the young person leaves the placement, and the last day is the date the young person returns to the placement, this is based on a 24 hour period and/or part thereof when considering start/finish day. The flexibility with hours allows for a less strict start/finish time and also can allow day respite where for the child’s best interest overnight respite is not appropriate.

It is expected that carers use this payment to arrange breaks/respite for the young person, and can look differently based on need/best interest. Despite encouraging this it is recognised that not all carers take this entitlement in the generic structure, discussions to not take up the respite option will take place with the supervising social worker and allocated child social worker, this will be formally recorded to be taken into account at the end of financial year. Should a management agreement be made to pay the 10 day respite to the carer at the end of the year, the young person will have had to be in placement for at least 3 months. The payment of this is to be used in activities and resources for the child/young person. All decisions for respite arrangements will be done in the best interests of both child and the carers.

Review and monitoring

Review every six months by the Fostering Service.

Payments

Level of payment Daily rate per child (£) Total paid respite allowance at 10 days (£)
Level 1 27.86 278.57
Level 2 37.14 371.43
Level 3 41.43 414.29

Pocket money for young people in placement and bank accounts

Overview

General arrangements must exist in all foster homes for the payment of pocket money and savings as well as the opportunity for young people to buy personal effects and clothing at appropriate times. The arrangements should be set out in the foster care agreement or the placement information record for individual children.

Principles

  • The provision of pocket money is good because it helps children understand the value of money, what things cost and helps them develop budgeting skills necessary for the future. There is an expectation that within the fostering allowance an element of this should be used for pocket money for the child or young person. It is expected that children will be aware of the amount of money they will receive and when this will be
  • We have provided suggested minimum weekly amounts for pocket money, but understand that circumstances within every home are different and we would want this to be compatible with foster carers’ birth children within the
  • The amount of pocket money should be agreed at the placement planning meeting with the child’s social worker and your supervising social worker.
  • Younger children should be supervised in how the money is spent, but older children should be encouraged to be more
  • If there are concerns about how the money is spent these concerns should be discussed with the child and the social worker. If there is a serious risk, the arrangements for providing money may have to be restricted or supervised spending arrangements put in place. This should always be discussed and agreed with the child’s social worker.
  • Deductions from pocket money should not be made for fines or sanctions unless agreed with the child’s social worker, except for reparation of malicious damage or to pay fines determined by a court. If a court imposes such deductions or fines, no more than two thirds of a child’s pocket money should be deducted in any week.

Recommended weekly amounts for pocket money:

Age (years) Pocket money (£ per week)
0-2 3*
3-4 5
5-10 6
11-15 8
16-18 10

*We do not expect babies to be given pocket money, but you may choose to put it towards additional items or simply add to the savings account (see details below).

All children and young people should be encouraged to open a personal savings account so that they can save some of their pocket money and money they receive for their birthdays or Christmas. Whilst children should have access to these accounts, foster carers need to support children to build on these savings. A bank or savings account should be set up and managed by foster carers. You will need proof of the child’s identity (passport or birth certificate) and confirmation of the address.

The child’s social worker or your supervising social worker should be able to arrange these documents. A record of the amount saved and account details should be written up in the foster carer recording file. You should never place a foster child’s savings in your own account.

Looked after savings accounts

AfC is in the process of making arrangements in RBWM to collect savings for young people at source to ensure a one step process of savings, this would match the process in RBK and LBR. Currently processes with RBK & LBR is that a child after 1 year in care has a ISA account opened under government programs (current organisation is Sharefoundation), from that point, the first years savings will be transferred, and every 6 months thereafter. This is arranged through the finance service. Once someone turns 18, they are able to access these funds through an organisational process, further details for this and if a young person is no longer looked after before 18, can be found in the Looked After Children policies.

From April 2020 each child will receive savings according to their age, as follows:

AfC savings for children looked after
Age of child/years Child’s savings (£ per week)
0-2 5
3-4 5
5-10 5
11-15 10
16-17 15

Other children’s and young people’s payments

Initial clothing allowances

Up to £200 is payable to foster carers to cover the cost of supplying basic essential items of clothing and footwear for children where these items are not available either from their home or previous placement. Requests for additional clothing allowance need to be discussed in advance with the carers’ supervising social worker and agreed by a fostering manager. If this child then moves from your care it is expected that they have adequate clothing to take with them.

As young people begin to take more responsibility, depending on their age and understanding,  discussions should take place with the young person and their social worker about a personal allowance from the foster carer to allow them to purchase clothing, toiletries and other personal requisites independently.

Birthdays, Christmas or significant celebrations

Through the transition of combining RBK, LBR and RBWM finance policies it is noted that for RBWM these provisions have been incorporated into the holiday and weekly allowance to align with processes in place for RBK and LBR AfC policy. With this in mind, purchases for special occasions are discussed with the supervising social worker, and reasonable spending for each occasion to be made. However, where a child or young person is placed within four weeks of a special occasion e.g. birthday a payment of up to £100 can be agreed by fostering Manager.

Where the child is placed within 7 weeks of the Christmas period or a significant religious festival a payment of up to one weeks additional allowance can be agreed by the Branch Manager to contribute towards these additional expenses.

Medical, dental, optical payments

Reasonable expenditure for exceptional medical, dental and optical treatment will be reimbursed where not received through the NHS. Approval for such treatment/s will be made by the Head of Fostering. Foster carers must receive agreement before treatment is sought.

School clothing allowance

Routine replacement and updating of school clothing for a child in your care is covered by the weekly allowance. Where a child is placed without any appropriate school clothing or changes school whilst in your care, the actual cost of the items purchased specifically for the new school will be reimbursed against receipts. This means those items which have the school badge or emblem on them, and cannot be bought from generic shops. Those which are common items such as plain white shirts, black trousers or skirt, general sportswear are not included. School equipment is also expected to be provided from the weekly allowance therefore items such as calculators, books, and school bags, unless specific school regulations regarding these are in place, will not be included. When a child moves school please discuss this with your social worker.

School trips

School day trips or outings will be expected to be paid for from the fostering allowance. Where there is an opportunity for a child to attend an away trip with their school the department may decide to fund this if it is demonstrable that it will educationally benefit the young person and could therefore be considered under the pupil premium. The PEP is a forum where issues such as this could reasonably be raised and discussed. Holiday allowance is to not be used for any school trips or holiday programs.

Disability living allowance – DLA

Foster carers are encouraged to apply for this state benefit for a disabled foster child. It is payable to meet the additional needs arising from the child’s disability and is not deducted from fostering allowances for children under the age of 18.

Carers are required to keep a log of all spending of the DLA including receipts (for purchases

outside the normal agreed) which may be requested by the supervising or allocated child social worker. General plans of ‘normal or regular’ use of the DLA can be agreed through the delegated authority with discussion from the child social worker and supervising social worker, anything outside of this would need to be discussed with the allocated child social worker. Anything not spent should be saved for later for the child, though spending is recommended as it is important the child’s or young person’s ongoing daily and changing needs should be addressed through the DLA funding.

Further information on DLA can be found on the gov.uk website.

Parent and baby placements

Overview

Once a carer has completed relevant training, has been additionally assessed and further approval for parent and baby placements, carer will be offered a range of parent and baby placements. The difference of costing below is based on the type of order for the placement and age of the parent or child.

No court order placement (payment for parent only)

  • Parent fee will be based on their age; under 15 based on their age, 16+ (includes 18+).
  • Foster reward fee (based on current level)
  • Complexity based on assessment
  • £50 per week for accommodation or household costing for the baby

ICO or ISO court ordered placement

  • Parent fee will be based on their age; under 15 based on their age, 16+ (includes 18+).
  • Child fee based on the baby’s age at time of placement commencing.
  • Foster reward fee (based on current level)
  • Complexity based on assessment

Parent and child placements are offered to support the parent in developing their skills and capacity to meet the needs of their child. For non-court ordered placements, the parent is responsible for the finance and care of their baby. For court ordered placements, carers will be expected to provide additional oversight, and potential court updates, as a result of the baby’s status being looked after, the carer will receive the child placement fee for the baby as well as the parent.

Additionally, there is the fostering rewards fees detailed below and the complexity placement once assessment of this has taken place. In some rare occasions the alternative to residential placement may also apply.

Fostering reward fees

Overview

As a foster carer at Achieving for Children, and with a child in placement, you’ll receive a fostering reward fee in recognition of your valued role as a foster carer. These are paid to our approved foster carers according to the child’s needs and the carer’s skills and experience and includes:

  • a banded reward fee based on your experience and skill level
  • a supplementary fee, paid per child in placement if the child reaches a threshold level of additional need

Payments

For all new placements from 1 April 2020 and existing placements where foster carers benefit from the below rates compared with the rates in place prior 1 April 2020, the following reward fees will be paid. Individual arrangements for those foster carers who would have seen a decrease in their income have been agreed with those foster carers and the IFA Board.

AfC carer level Reward fee per week per child (£) Further information
Level 1 195 None
Level 2 260 None
Level 3 290 None
Supplementary fee – moderately complex 50 Child Behaviour Assessment to be completed by the SSW and CSW, and presented to manager for agreement. To be reviewed at least every 6 months.
Supplementary fee – moderately complex 100 Child Behaviour Assessment to be completed by the SSW and CSW, and presented to manager for agreement. To be reviewed at least every 6 months.
Alternative to residential fee Decided on a case by case basis in exceptional cases and has to be signed off by Director of Social Care Child Behaviour Assessment to be completed by the SSW and CSW, and presented to manager for agreement. To be reviewed at least every 6 months.

Weekly and daily rates

Level of payment Weekly payment per child (£) Daily rate of the weekly payment per child (£)
Level 1 195.00 27.86
Level 2 260.00 37.14
 Level 3 290.00  41.43

Determining the complexity of a child’s needs

To determine the level of complexity of a child’s needs (no complex needs, moderately complex needs, or highly complex needs), a standardised Foster Child Behavioural Assessment will be used.

The assessment will initially be completed when the child comes into foster care by the child’s social worker, the supervising social worker, and referrer. Following this, the process for reviewing assessments will be aligned with the existing children looked after review processes and take into account the views of the foster carer on their lived experience of caring for the child.

  • For short term placements, the decision made about the payment at the six month meeting will remain for the rest of the placement except in exceptional cases. For long term placements, the decision made about the payment at the six-month meeting will be reviewed annually at a CLA review
  • An exceptional meeting could be called if a child’s behaviour has changed significantly

between CLA reviews. A child’s needs assessment would be completed by the child’s social worker as well as the ones already completed by the foster carer on a regular basis. The meeting should be attended by the supervising social worker; the child’s social worker; the foster carer; and a senior manager. If there is sufficient evidence, the supplementary fee could be awarded at this meeting.

(AfC is currently reviewing the offer we provide to carers who may be experiencing challenges in the placement. Support needs can be identified in various ways and we want to ensure AfC services are offering the best mechanism for this which might be practical, additional respite or include financial assistance).

Alternative to residential fee

In exceptional cases where the child has a profound disability, has been stepped down from residential care or hospital or intensive fostering is seen as the only alternative to a residential placement , a higher supplementary fee can be paid.

These decisions have to be signed off by the Responsible Individual in either branch and are determined on a case by case basis. They require the completion of both a complexity assessment and a short report which collates the views of the foster carer/s on their lived experience of caring for the child, the child/young person and key professionals involved with their care and support.

Decisions around whether the threshold for “alternative to residential” are met should be taken within four to six weeks of the child being placed and where appropriate payments will then be backdated.

Connected person

During the assessment phase, if a child or young person is residing with the connected person, they will be paid allowance based on the age of the child only until completion of a positive assessment and ADM or panel approval has taken place, along with meeting Level 1 carer requirements. During the assessment process the connected person will not receive additional foster carer payments or holiday allowance.

Family link carers

Family link carers are part of the short breaks service, there are different training and approval requirements associated with this type of caring support, which is generally offered to non-looked after children, who reside with their families. Family link payments are completed separately through children with disability teams.

Supporting the service policy

Overview

This policy provides summary information for our foster carers and staff on the activities that constitute as a foster carer supporting the fostering service, and the process for claiming the sessional rate that foster carers and the fostering service should follow.

Supporting the department

Foster carers are entitled to a sessional rate of £11.23 per hour for supporting the fostering service.

The following activities constitute as supporting the fostering service in a manner that is not directly related to the care of a child.

  • Contributing to training as a facilitator or speaker
  • Speaking at events or in a professional forum
  • Support for recruitment activities
  • Any other activities agreed by the branch manager

Out of hours foster carer availability list

AfC provides details of available carers who have put themselves forward for out of hours placement. This is updated weekly or if all carers become available within the week. To be eligible for this, you must have an available placement, ideally be able to take a placement 0 to 17 years and be available for the coming month, in case the emergency placement is needed for this period before formal matching.

Out of hours is arranged Friday to Thursday, and carers might be contacted between 5pm and 9am on those days.

Kingston and Richmond will ideally put forward two available placements or carers within the week, and Windsor and Maidenhead will put forward one carer. Foster carers will be paid £50 when placed on the out of hours list for the week and if they take a placement through emergency duty or out of hours services, the carers will receive an additional £50, if they do take the placement during this period.

Supporting other carers or supporting care of a looked after child

We expect foster carers to offer informal mutual support to each other; this may involve caring for children placed with another foster care and vice versa. However, where the fostering service makes formal arrangements for one carer to support another, finances might be agreed, but will not be more than the daily rate, unless the paid respite is in place.

All arrangements need to be discussed with the relevant supervising social workers for discussion and agreement, looked after children social workers will need to be notified of change of circumstances, even if it is just for a few hours to help the carer out.

AfC introduced the Fostering Mentoring Scheme in April 2021, please refer to this document for further information related to this support.

Review and monitoring

This policy will be reviewed a month before the end of each financial year by the Fostering Service.

Process for claiming the sessional rate

Foster carers who have supported the fostering service in one or more of the above activities should complete the claim form, which can be found in Annex 1 of this policy and in the Fostering Handbook.

Once the claim form has been completed, foster carers should return it to their supervising social worker. The supervising social worker should then take the completed claim form to a manager within the fostering service for authorisation. Once the claim has been authorised, the supervising social worker should scan and email the form to Finance. Finance should then process the payment. Foster carers should expect to receive payment within 14 working days of Finance processing the claim.

All claims should be made within six weeks of the activity being conducted.

Further information

If you are a foster carer and require further information or advice regarding this policy, please ask your supervising social worker in the first instance.

Additional foster carer payments

Overview

The following additional payments may be made if:

  • the foster carer has provided all necessary receipts
  • the supervising social worker has given prior agreement
  • the supervising social worker has completed the payment
  • the fostering manager has given agreement and authorised the claim

Review and monitoring

All of the following additional payments will be reviewed on an annual basis by the Fostering Service before the start of each financial year.

Set up allowance (new to fostering)

This allowance may be claimed, to a maximum of £500, to cover the cost of acquiring basic equipment which the carer does not currently have in order to fulfil the fostering task. It is intended to cover the purchasing of items such as cots, beds, bedding, clothes storage, desk, etc for a foster child’s bedroom. It can also be used to purchase essential safety equipment such as first aid kit, fire extinguisher, high chairs, car seats, stair gates, etc.

This allowance does not cover any decorating, curtain or carpet costs, foster carers are expected to keep their house in good repair and replace such items as necessary. Where the actions of a fostered child result in the damage of internal fixtures and fittings within the home it may be appropriate to make an insurance claim (see Insurance section in Fostering Handbook for full details of procedures around this).

This allowance may also be paid to foster carers taking on a new placement where specialist equipment is needed that they do not currently have for example, waterproof bedding, car seats, baby equipment, or mobility aids.

Introductory costs

Where a foster carer is involved in introductions either to a child or facilitating introducing a child to a future placement reasonable travelling expenses and overnight accommodation may be paid. This should be discussed as part of the introductions planning process.

Additional travelling expenses

As stated, it is an expectation that foster carers provide appropriate transport depending on the child’s needs and some travelling costs are included in the fostering allowance. However, where a carer is undertaking significant travelling, over 150 miles a month (per child) the excess may be reimbursed. Claims must be submitted within three months of the date of travel and will be paid at the local authority mileage rate which currently stands at 46.9p per mile.

Where a foster carer is using public transport and the cost of this exceeds £70.35 a month, the excess may be reimbursed. (This figure is based on what 150 driven miles would cost if they were reimbursed at the mileage rate of 46.9p.)

Absence of child or young person from placement

Missing from placement

The child’s fostering allowance and fee will be paid to the carers if the child is missing from placement. If after seven days the child is still missing, decisions about the placement will be subject to normal care planning processes, this may include ending the placement.

Hospitalisation

The full allowance and fee will be paid to the carers if a child or young person is hospitalised with the expectation that the carer supports the child as any parent would during stays at the hospital. If after seven days the child is still in hospital, the payment of the childs allowance may be freezed, and this will be negotiated with the foster carer. This may include negotiating the payment of a retainer until the child or young person returns to placement. The negotiation will take into account the amount of contact that the foster carer maintains with the child or young person whilst they are in hospital.

Foster carers are expected to visit their children or young people every day in hospital unless there are specific circumstances that need to be accounted for. They are also expected to call the child every day.

Overpayments

If we overpay you, we will recover the money in the following payment due to you, or any future payments. If the child is no longer living with you at the time of the overpayment being picked up, you will need to pay back the money in full, or we can take the overpayment off your next placement, if it is within three months of you being notified of the overpayment. It is your responsibility to inform us of any payments made to you that you were not expecting.

Payment during investigations of allegations

Overview

In response to the fees and allowances consultation, the IFA Board has agreed that foster carers will continue to receive fee payments while allegations of malpractice are investigated up to the point of formal conclusion of Standards of Care Investigation. Allowances will follow the child(ren) so could not be paid to the foster carer if the child(ren) is removed from their care during the investigation.

Review

Every financial year by the Fostering Service.

Keeping records and receipts of payments and purchases

Foster carers are expected to keep record and receipts (where possible) of payments in which they have used for the additional allowances and holiday allowance. AfC requests carers to keep record for at least three years, or the duration of a long term matched placement. The reason for this, is on the possible occasion in which a complaint or concern is raised regarding spending. Supervising social workers, will ask to view receipts associated with spending especially related to holiday allowance, carers may be required to provide copies as outlined in this document or if concerns arise. Keeping records and receipts are essential for disability living allowance, as per the section above.

Foster carer Tax and National Insurance information

HMRC and the Fostering Network provide information and resources for foster carers regarding their tax and national insurance.

Staying Put

Overview

AfC has an updated Staying Put Policy for AfC carers – September 2020, please view the policy for full details.

Staying put arrangement refers to the arrangement for extending former foster placements in order to continue a child’s or young person’s transition into adulthood within a family and household supported environment. The intention is to ensure young people can remain with their former foster carers until they are prepared for adulthood as well as experience a transition akin to their peers. A staying put arrangement is set out in the child’s or young person’s pathway plan and looked after children review.

 

The primary aim of staying put arrangement is to promote a gradual transition from care to adulthood and independent living which recognises that many young people in care often experience delayed maturity and that their 18th birthday may be an arbitrary and inappropriate point to leave a familiar foster care household. Therefore, the AfC ‘staying put’ scheme is designed to ensure young people do not experience a sudden disruption to their living arrangements and ensures educational and training achievement is promoted.

Review and monitoring

Review every six months by the Leaving Care Service alongside the young person’s pathway planning meetings.

Payments to foster carers in Achieving for Children

Flat rate of £275 per week.

Completion of full time education year 13 including full time ESOL until the end of the education year of their 18th year £417 per week.

Where the young person who is staying put is able to apply for benefits, this should cover allowance costs. Where a young person has an education, health and care plan or SEND support, an exceptional payment based on the needs of the young person could be agreed. This would be agreed in consultation with the leaving care team.

Alternative to Staying Put for 18+ is Shared Lives. Additional information can be found in the Staying Put policy – September 2020.

AfC Fostering