Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual

6.1.20 Foster Carer Payments Policy

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Fostering Rates and Allowances

AMENDMENT

Section 6, Calculating Foster Carer Allowances was revised in November 2013 to include short breaks and contract carers.


Contents

  1. Aim
  2. Legislative and Regulatory Summary
  3. Key Policy Objectives 
  4. Key Actions
  5. Definitions - Basic Allowances Skills Fees and Additional Allowances
  6. Calculating Foster Carer Allowances
  7. Additional Allowances
  8. How Foster Carers are Paid
  9. Insurance


1. Aim

To provide transparent guidance to fostering staff and carers regarding allowances and fees paid to carers.


2. Legislative and Regulatory Summary

  1. The Children Act 1989, Guidance and Regulations Volume 4 (2011);

    Paragraph 3.111 explains the need for a policy which deals with the payment of fostering allowances and makes clear which costs carers are expected to meet from the allowance and any additional payments which may be available;
  2. Fostering Services National Minimum Standards (2011);

    Standard 28 stipulates that the fostering service has a policy on foster carer payments.


3. Key Policy Objectives

  1. To provide foster carers and fostering staff with the criteria used to calculate carer payments;
  2. To distinguish between allowances and fees;
  3. To provide carers with information on how to access allowances and expenses payable to them.


4. Key Actions

The Fostering Service will review the fostering allowance on an annual basis to ensure it is set at a level no less than the national minimum. Carers will be consulted in regards to changes in fee and allowances.

The Fostering Service will provide carers with a copy of this policy and information detailing the current level of payment on an annual basis.

The Fostering Service will endeavour to ensure that allowances and fees are paid promptly and will act swiftly to resolve any delays in payments. Carers should be aware that they have a duty to notify their Supervising Social Worker of any delays or discrepancies in their payments.

Carers will be provided with a Statement of Payment at the end of every tax year.


5. Definitions - Basic Allowances Skills Fees and Additional Allowances

Basic Allowance: This is defined as the amount paid to carers to cover the basic costs of caring for a child or young person. It is paid on a per week, per child basis. The basic allowance payable to carers varies depending on the age of the child or young person placed and will be set at, or above, the national minimum allowance.

Skills Fee: This is defined as the amount paid to carers according to their level of skill, experience (and fulfillment of training obligations). It is paid on a per week, per child basis. There are three levels and in order for carers to be eligible to receive a skills fee, they must satisfy the following criteria.

  1. Level One Skills Fee: To receive this skills fee, carers must be an approved Nottingham City Council foster carer;
  2. Level Two Skills Fee: To receive this skills fee, carers must have 40 weeks experience as a Nottingham City Council foster carer and have completed further training requirements as per the Foster Care Agreement. For carers approved from January 1st, 2010, must complete all mandatory training within their first year of approval;
  3. Level Three Skills Fee: Carers will be considered eligible to receive this skills fee if they provide care to children (normally over the age of 10 years) with significant needs and who require long term (permanent) placements;

    Children who are deemed to require significant expertise on the part of the foster carer, are those where many of the following are displayed in their behaviour and history as assessed by health professionals and/or social workers:
    • Disrupted attachments;
    • Highly sexualised behaviour;
    • On-going challenging Behaviour (e.g. fixed-term exclusion, bullying, threats of violence, disruptive behaviour, verbal abuse, substance misuse);
    • Series of placement breakdowns i.e. disruptions due to challenging behaviours as outlined above;
    • Educational difficulties requiring ongoing support from the foster carer;
    • Disabilities.

Additional Allowances: This is defined as payments made where it is clearly shown that a cost has been, or will be, incurred that is beyond that accounted for in the basic allowance (see Section 7, Additional Allowances).


6. Calculating Foster Carer Allowances

The Foster Carer Allowance is comprised of the Basic Allowance and a Skills Fee.

The suggested percentage breakdown of the Basic Allowance is as follows;

  • Food - 32%;
  • Household costs - 20%;
  • Clothing - 15%;
  • Travel - 7%;
  • Personal Care (including Enjoy and Achieve) - 27%.

See Fostering Rates and Allowances for details of the current Basic Allowance rates.

Short Breaks:

Standard (home from home) Short break foster carers receive an allowance for each 24 hour period of care that they provide.

Contract Carers:

Are self employed carers who provide care for up to 240 overnights per year for disabled children with a range of complex health and behavioural needs. They receive a skills fee per week plus an allowance for each child who receives an overnight break


7. Additional Allowances

The following descriptions provide guidance of the type of expenditure that can be claimed in addition to the Foster Carer Allowance. Requests for additional allowances must be approved in advance, by the appropriate manager, prior to spend.

  1. Initial Clothing: Payable for any immediate and essential clothing needs of the child on placement. This allowance is payable once only during the child’s episode in care, regardless of the number of placements. Therefore, the social worker should check with Finance before recommending the allowance. In so far as is possible, clothing must be brought from the parental home. Allowance will be given once receipts have been received;
  2. School Uniform: Used to purchase essential school uniform when a child moves school due to a change in placement. Not to be used to replace a uniform that has been outgrown or worn out;
  3. Transport for Children: To be claimed for bus passes instances where a child must travel outside of Nottingham City boundaries for school or college;
  4. Direct Work with Children: Used to cover costs associated with Life story work, passports, birth certificates, meeting with social workers and DNA testing;
  5. Laundry and Incontinence: Used to cover costs for extra laundry, nappies and home help;
  6. Personal Care: Hair and skin care, glasses, special diets, health matters and special needs;
  7. Educational Activities: This allowance is reserved for weeklong educational trips, home tuition (which must be supported by a recommendation from an educational representative) and nursery places. Nursery places must be agreed with the Service Manager prior to placement;
  8. Strive and Achieve: Used when a child demonstrates exceptional ability in a chosen field and additional expenses are incurred as a result;
  9. Contact: This allowance covers hospitality and travel to contact;
  10. Childcare: This covers costs associated with childcare when the foster carer is on Nottingham City Council business i.e. training and reviews;
  11. Exceptional Clothing Costs: This includes one-off cultural and religious clothing, maternity items, clothing for interviews and prom outfits;
  12. Household Equipment: This allowance covers costs associated with the purchase of furniture and equipment not available through stores, exceptional wear and tear and damage not covered by existing insurance;
  13. Transport for Carers: Transport to contact or other city council business relating to the placement. The allowance also covers car hire, which must be approved by the Fostering Service Manager;
  14. Miscellaneous: This allowance should be used in exceptional circumstances where there is no suitable alternative;
  15. Disturbance Allowance: If a child has been placed with a foster carer with less than 24 hours notice, a disturbance allowance will be paid;
  16. Breaks for mainstream carers (respite) for Foster Carers: Foster carers can have 2 weeks paid respite per year per child, this is on a rolling year basis starting from the month the child is placed. However, if the carer chooses to take the child on holiday with them and not accessing respite care, they are entitled to the equivalent of the payment to the respite carer. They will be paid the appropriate number of days up to a maximum of 14 days;

    Carers can access this allowance up to 2 months prior to the holiday through a request made to their Supervising Social Worker, who will complete a CH/FIN/1 form and present it to their line manager for authorisation;

    If a child goes to respite care, the same fostering allowance which is payable in his/her substantive placement will be payable to the Respite Carer;
  17. Respite for children from the community: Respite Carers offering placements to these children will receive the basic allowance.

Additional allowances are paid at the discretion of the Service Manager Fostering and Adoption or Head of Service - Children in Care. Payments will be refused if they are deemed inappropriate to the placement.

Emergency payments are only available in exceptional circumstances in respect of any of the above allowances if approved by the Service Manager Fostering and Adoption to a maximum of £50.


8. How Foster Carers are Paid

Once approved, foster carers are required to provide the Fostering Service with their bank details.

When a child has been placed, the Placement Service will initiate payment of the Foster Carer Allowance. Foster Carer Allowances are paid a week in lieu, payments are usually made on a Friday (except in exceptional circumstances). If a child is placed after the payroll run, the allowance may take up to two weeks to be paid.

Every week foster carers will receive a notification of allowances paid to them.

Payments due over bank holiday periods or public holidays may be made in advance. Notification will be sent to foster carers if this is the case.

Allowances will cease on the day the placement ends. If for any reason foster carers are still receiving payments once a placement has ended, they are required to notify their Supervising Social Worker, or Childcare Payments and reimburse any overpayment.

Foster carers should notify their Supervising Social Worker if they have not been paid monies owed. The Supervising Social Worker will then ensure that the matter is raised with Childcare Payments and follow it up to ensure it is resolved.

If there is a break in placement, or in the event of an allegation being brought against the fostering household, all payments will cease for any child removed.

Foster Carer Allowances will cease the day before the 18th birthday of any child placed.

Financial arrangements for looked after children who remain in a foster placement after their 18th birthday will be set out in the child’s Pathway Plan.

In the event that a foster carer is overpaid an allowance, the authority will undertake necessary action to recover the payments. Carers should check their remittance advice carefully and notify the authority of any errors immediately. Repayment plans may be put In place to recover payments made in error.


9. Insurance

Foster carers are encouraged to understand what their Building and Contents insurance covers and to notify insurance provider (in writing) of their role as a foster carer. Points to query with their insurer are covered in the Foster Carer Handbook.

Foster carers are encouraged to notify their motor insurer of their fostering role and check that they have the correct level of insurance to cover their fostering duties.

Foster carers should attempt to claim on their own insurance if their property is damaged or stolen by a child placed. If the claim is rejected by the insurer, the foster carer should inform their Supervising Social Worker who can present the claim to the authority’s insurer. Under the current arrangements, a maximum of £1,000 can be paid in a single claim.

End