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Advice and guidance resources for foster carers

Information available to help you as a foster carer.

Tax, benefits and insurance

Registering as self-employed

When you start fostering you need to register as self-employed. If you don't you may be charged a penalty. HM Revenue and Customs have produced an eLearning course called Tax for foster carers that will help you to register as self-employed. The course covers the following topics.

  • Registering as self-employed
  • National Insurance and Income Tax
  • Qualifying care relief
  • Working out your profit
  • Fostering in a partnership
  • Tax returns and payments
  • Keeping records
  • Universal Credit and benefits

There are three ways to register as self-employed:

  • online, using a computer and the Internet
  • by telephone - by contacting the helpline
  • in writing - by filling in a form CWF1.

The Fostering Network can support you with registering.

Fosterline - Specialist tax and benefits advice and support to the foster carer and members of the fostering household.

Income Tax

The current rules mean many UK foster carers now pay no tax on the money they earn from fostering. Foster carers can be exempt from tax on all or most of their fostering income, depending on:

  • how many children they look after
  • whether or not it is a full tax year
  • whether or not there are other foster carers in the same household.

Find more information on the HMRC website.

Tax and benefits

The GOV.UK website has information about help with the cost of fostering.

The Fostering Network website has a section all about finances.

Insurance

When you become a foster carer you must inform both your home and car insurance company in writing. You will need to ensure that you have fully comprehensive car insurance.

The Fostering Network now provides legal protection insurance cover for foster carers and former foster carers. The policy covers carers who look after a young person up to the age of 21, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy. The policy covers legal costs arising as a result of your work as a foster carer only.

Health, safety and wellbeing

What to do if you don't get on with the child in your care

Ideally, all placements of children will be well-matched and planned, but ultimately a foster carer has the right to turn down placements.

Some children will fit in better with your family than others and some will also take longer to adjust to living in your home. However, if there was a real problem, then you must discuss this with your supervising social worker. The likelihood is that if you are finding things difficult then the child may also be feeling this is not the right place for them.

Hopefully with extra support or training, caring for that child or young person becomes easier and more enjoyable. However, sometimes, it may be best for a child to move to another foster family.

Self-harm

If you are concerned that the child in your care is self-harming, you should seek advice. Visit the National Self Harm website for guidance, including some ideas about distraction techniques.

Fire safety in the home

The fire service is offering safe and well checks to all foster carers. This free service involves a full home fire and safety risk check, including installation of free smoke alarms if needed.

Car seats

Foster carers will need to know the law, types of seats and the safe use of car seats.

Up to date information can be found on GOV.UK and the ROSPA website. 

Internet safety

If you are worried about the child or young person in your care using the internet, there is plenty of help available. Visit UK Safer Internet Centre and Think You Know.

Activities to support wellbeing

Activities to support wellbeing are promoted via youth channel of the Family Information Service called Activities Oxfordshire. The website lists 750+ local providers of activities for young people.

Education and learning

Virtual School for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, 0-25

The Virtual School for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, 0-25 is a partner to all schools in being the most ambitious and aspirational corporate parents we can be. The headteacher and her team ensure that schools, social workers, carers and other professionals understand statutory responsibilities and are aware of the best practice.

Contact the Virtual School.

Oxme.info

Oxme.info is Oxfordshire information website for children and young people in Oxfordshire. It replaces and combines early information and engagement websites for young people including Big Voice Oxfordshire, Spired, Connexions Oxfordshire, Oxcentric, Boombox and the Oxfordshire Survival Guide for Young People.

The information website for young people delivers on the following statutory duties and priorities:

  • Post-16 learning offer
  • Activities to Support wellbeing for 13-19 (up to 25 with LDD)
  • RPA/100% Participation

It also supports many other areas including consultations, safeguarding and public health priorities, the SEND local offer and more.

Oxme.info quick guide

Help with decision-making

As a foster carer, you will find you need the authority to make certain day to day decisions about the child. You may decide if they are allowed to stay overnight with a friend, or whether they can go on a school trip.

Delegated authority

Delegated authority is the term used when the responsibility for making these types of day to day decisions about a child has been passed into your care.

How delegated authority is decided

Before placing a child into your care, there is a placement planning meeting. In this meeting, we decide delegated authority. We detail situations where you can make decisions about the child without first talking to your social worker.

There is more information about delegated authority in the foster carers handbook and the Delegated Authority Policy.

The Fostering Network useful information about decision making.

Independent advice and mediation

The Fostering Network runs an advice and mediation service. Find your local advice and mediation worker for confidential, independent advice and support.