Fostering with us

How we will support you to be the best foster carer you can for children across Oxfordshire.

What fostering means

Every child’s story is different. Fostering provides a nurturing and safe environment for a child who is unable to live with their birth family. 

Foster children vary in age from babies to teenagers. Our foster carers offer them a place to call home for as long as they need it.  

Statement of purpose

The statement describes the service that Oxfordshire's Fostering Service provides.

What it takes to be a foster carer

To be a foster carer, you need to be willing to develop new skills. You'll work with a child's family, social workers and other professionals. Fostering means being part of a child-focused team.

As a foster carer, you will need sensitivity and flexibility. You'll need to understand and cope with challenging behaviour. You'll need determination and patience to work through the difficult times. Most of all, you need to have enough time in your life and space in your home to care for a child or teenager.

Your dedication will make a positive and long-lasting difference to the children and young people you foster. 

Meet some of our amazing foster carers and find out if fostering could be for you.

Read what’s stopping you from fostering if you are worried about any aspects of your life.

Support at every step

We will support you every step of the way on your journey to fostering.

Welcome payment of £1,500

As a way of welcoming you to the local authority’s family of foster carers you will receive £1,500 when you are approved as a short-term or long-term carer and have a child placed in your home.

Terms and conditions

  • For applications from new mainstream carers received after 3/11/2021 for short- and long-term care only. This offer excludes kinship, emergency, relief or short-break care.
  • One-off payment of £1,500 will be paid once carers are approved and have taken their first short or long-term placement.
  • When approved for short-term and relief, if carer's first placement is for relief care only, they will not receive the payment until their first short-term placement.
  • There is no minimum timescale for this payment to be applied so long as the conditions above are met.
  • This payment is currently not open to existing carers.
  • This offer will be kept under review.

Allowances and payments

To support the cost of looking after a child, we pay foster carers the following:

  • allowances 
  • expenses 
  • additional skills payment (in some cases). 

We pay allowances rather than salaries, so it is unlikely to affect your state benefits and your tax position. But you should inform the Benefits Office and tax authorities.

How much you'll get paid

Age of child Weekly allowance for 2021 to March 2022 per child
0 to 4 £160
5 to 10 £171
11 to 15 £212
16 to 18 £259

Payment for skills

Foster carers with additional skills and competencies receive extra payment. The payment is based on their experience and training. The scheme operates on four payment bands:

skill level Additional payment per week
Level 1 None. Receive the normal weekly allowance only.
Level 2 £152
Level 3 £202 for a child 0-10
£222 for a child 11-18
Level 4 £365 for a child from 3-11  

Skill levels

  • Level 2: carers have completed a number of training courses.
  • Level 3: caring for children with complex needs.
  • Level 4: caring for children with complex needs who are part of the Oxfordshire Treatment Foster Care scheme and is offered for children from age 3 to 11 only. Learn more about specialist fostering.

Additional allowances

In addition to a weekly payment, carers receive the following financial support:

  • Festivity, birthday and holiday allowances.
  • Essential fostering equipment.
  • Emergency clothing allowance.
  • Mileage and travel expenses.
  • Long service bonus.
  • Refer a friend scheme - foster carers can receive £250 if a recommendation they make provides a newly approved fostering household.

For more detailed information on allowances please see our allowances guidance booklet (pdf format, 715 KB).

How we differ from independent agencies

We are a 'not for profit' organisation

There are several subtle differences between us and the independent fostering agencies (IFAs) but there is one main difference – we are a 100% not for profit organisation, committed to keeping children and young people in local care, near to their birth families, friends and schools. 

IFAs have their own social workers and foster carers but the children remain the responsibility of the local authority.  If you foster with an IFA you may have children placed from other local authorities a long way from your home.

If we cannot recruit enough foster carers

If we cannot recruit enough foster carers then we must place our children with independent agencies. This results in children often having to be placed out of county and the local authority incurring additional costs.

Ideally, all our children who come into care would be placed ‘in house’, that is, with local foster carers recruited by Oxfordshire County Council, therefore, keeping costs and travel to a minimum. 

When choosing the right foster family there are many things to consider but being local here in Oxfordshire is key.  Our aim is for children to have more stability by placing them locally with Oxfordshire County Council foster carers.  Can you help by fostering with us?

How we support you as a foster carer

We give foster carers support, training and development opportunities. These are vital for effective foster caring. We offer you a fostering service all under one roof. It provides:

  • a recruitment team who will guide you through your foster carer journey
  • your own social worker
  • a social worker for the child
  • 24/7 telephone helpline.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • a variety of local training courses
  • the virtual school for education, learning, advice and support
  • extensive therapeutic support whenever you need it
  • access to consultations with a clinical psychologist
  • free membership of the Fostering Network
  • regular local support groups 
  • peer support within your local fostering network.

Discounts and benefits

We have joined leisure providers to access activities at affordable rates. A range of benefits is offered including:

  • leisure centre discounts
  • Oxford United match tickets and other football events
  • Max card, discounts to many attractions across the country
  • trips and events organised by the Oxfordshire Foster Care Association (OFCA)
  • Fostering Network membership fees which provide further discounted days out and holidays.