Parent & baby foster care placements

Financial guidance for foster carers


It is important that foster carers responsible for parent & baby placements are clear about Brighton and Hove Children and Families' expectations regarding financial support of the parent and their baby. This guidance clarifies the principles underpinning the payment of an allowance to the parent caring for a baby in placement, and what the allowance should cover and weekly amount suggested. The amounts suggested are guidelines of what should be normally paid, but it is recognised that there may be exceptions to these general rules which must be clarified at the placement’s outset.

Principles underpinning payment of an allowance to the parent caring for a baby in placement

The following principles should guide the payment by a foster carer of money to a parent of a baby in a parent & baby placement:

  • Foster carers should make a regular (normally weekly) payment out of their fostering allowance to the parent of a baby s/he is caring for in a parent & baby placement; this payment should not come out of the foster carer’s own money (the amount paid will depend on any Benefits received by the parent)
  • The payment of an allowance to the parent is an important part of the support and supervision of the parent & baby placement by the foster carer. This financial support significantly aids the overall aims of such placements, of avoiding the need to separate a mother from her newborn child, assessing the potential of the parent to care permanently for their child (or not) and helping them move onto more independent living (please also see Practice Guidance in relation to Parent and Baby Placements)
  • Having an allowance is good for the parent in placement. It helps to give a sense of independence, a measure of choice in making decisions about how money is spent, an understanding of the value of money and helps to develop budgetary skills
  • The amount to be paid to the parent must be clarified at the outset of the placement and explicitly addressed within the placement plan and at the initial placement set-up meeting. The rate of allowance should be kept under review by all concerned. Setting the appropriate level of allowance is dependent on close communication between the carer, the parent and their social worker and the supervising social worker. If the young person is not happy with the amount paid, it should be clear how they can raise their dissatisfaction through discussion with their social worker
  • Also at the initial placement set-up meeting it must be explicitly clarified what the foster carer will be responsible for providing for, and with, the parent in terms of physical care such as meals, heating, use of washing machine etc. If in receipt of Income Support, the parent will have income to cover her/his own personal expenses
  • Achieving the right level of allowance is dependent on carers knowing the parent well and having a trusting relationship
  • Though it is important to ensure the parent is receiving benefits s/he is entitled to, the parent and their social worker should also ensure that the agencies responsible for Child Benefit, Income Support and Housing Benefit are informed about the start of the parent & baby placement. The parent as claimant and their social worker are legally obliged to inform benefit agencies about this change of circumstance, which could lead to changes in the amount of benefit paid. Informing the Benefit agencies about changes of circumstance when they occur also helps to prevent overpayment. Overpayment of benefit causes later problems for claimants when it has to be repaid and additional work for social workers, both of which should be avoided.
  • The rate of allowance paid to the parent should be appropriate and realistic. The allowance paid should largely cover their baby’s basic material needs, taking into account Child Benefit received and items bought with the Maternity Payment. It is also the responsibility of carers and social workers to help ensure the smooth transition to independent living after foster care (if that continues to be the Care Plan). It would be unhelpful to this process if an allowance enabled her/him to enter into a lifestyle which was not possible when s/he has to live independently later with their baby
  • The withholding of the allowance as a punishment is not permissible and alternative acceptable sanctions should be used instead.

Payments to parent & baby carers for financial year 06 April 2017 - 05 April 2018.

The following payments have two components: care payments which cover the full cost of caring for the child or young person; and fee payments which relate to a carer’s years of service and development of skills through training and experience.

For baby

£ 150   (care payment) plus

£ 155  (fee payment if new carer) or

£ 166 (fee payment carer with 2 years service) or

£ 196  (fee payment carer with 5 years service) or

Totals £305 or £316 or £346


For parent

£ 226  (care payment) plus

£ 155 (fee payment if new carer) or

£ 166  (fee payment carer with 2 years service) or

£ 196  (fee payment carer with 5 years service) or

Totals £381 or £392 or £422


Combined totals

£686 parent & baby new carer

£708 parent & baby carer with 2 years service

£768 parent & baby carer with 5 years service

Clarification of benefits position of parents in parent & baby placements and implications of the new Child Trust Fund and Junior ISA (for financial year 2017-2018 - to be updated 2017 following change in rules on Junior ISAs)

Parents, including those aged under 18, are entitled (from 06 April 2017) to Child Benefit of £20.70 a week for the first child (£13.70 for a second child). Child Benefit received would need to be ‘off-set’ against an allowance s/he would receive from Children and Families via the foster carer. Child Benefit is normally awarded for a temporary period of up to 8 weeks whilst a baby is looked after, however a Benefits Officer may decide not to award Child Benefit if the child is looked after. The young person’s social worker can advise and support the young person if s/he has difficulty in obtaining Child Benefit. If a parent is receiving Child Benefit before a parent & baby placement starts, s/he and their social worker must inform the Child Benefit office once the placement has started.

All children born after 01 September 2002 received a voucher with a value of £250 from the Government that was sent to the child’s parent once Child Benefit had been claimed. This voucher was only to be invested in the Child Trust Fund. The voucher was normally sent to the parent about one month after the birth of the child. The Government changed the rules for Child Trust Funds and from 02 January 2011, no more children will be eligible to have a Child Trust Fund set up for them. Child Trust Funds have been replaced from 03 January 2011 by the new Junior ISA, available to children born before September 2002 or after 03 January 2011. Details can be found on the internet.  Any queries about the remaining Child Trust Fund scheme can be addressed to the Child Trust Fund Helpline, who can be contacted on 0845 302 1470. Details of Building Societies/Investment companies providing a Child Trust Fund can be accessed via The trust funds are a long term investment for the child and cannot be released until the child is 18. A maximum of £1200 can be paid into existing funds each year and foster carers can pay directly into the fund account on behalf of the parent, assist the parent to do so or advise them to do so. Parents in receipt of child tax credit may have been eligible for an additional £250 voucher – contact the Child Trust Fund online for further information. Funds cannot be transferred from a Child Trust Fund into a Junior ISA. Some interest rates are now so low (March 2017) that carers may want to shop around to find the best available savings rates for children.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) advises that a parent (including those under the age of 18 either looked after or not) not in full-time education or working is entitled to claim Income Support or Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowancefor themselves and if s/he has claimed or is in receipt of Child Benefit. The parent would not be entitled to an Allowance for their baby if s/he is looked after, however the DWP expect the parent to be responsible for their child. If the parent is aged 16 to 24 s/he will receive £57.90 a week Income Support and Income-Based Jobseekers Allowance and if 25 and over to £73.10 per week. The parent’s social worker, normally based in the 16 Plus Support Team, will provide advice and support as appropriate if difficulties are encountered in claiming appropriate benefits. If a parent is in receipt of Income Support for themselves and a child before a parent & baby placements starts, s/he and their social worker must inform the Department for Work and Pensions once the placement has started. The Council’s Housing Benefit Section advises that if a parent receiving Housing Benefit moves into a parent & baby placement the Housing Benefit will continue to paid for a maximum of 13 weeks, on the understanding that the parent intends to return to their accommodation. Normally there is no flexibility about the 13 weeks ‘cut off’ point, however in exceptional circumstances discretionary payments may be negotiated with the Housing Department. If a parent returned home after a few weeks then went back to a parent & baby placement for a second period the 13 week rule would apply from the new placement date. The parent and their social worker would obviously need to liaise with the Housing Department and keep them informed of developments. The parent and their social worker must inform the Housing Benefit authority about the start of a parent & baby placement. Housing Benefit received must be used to maintain the parent’s tenancy and not spent on other living expenses.

Weekly payment of allowances by foster carers to parents under and over the age of 18 in parent & baby placements

At the outset of placement the parent should come with ‘caring materials’ from their Sure Start Maternity Grant of £500 such as buggy, sterilising unit, and cot. The Maternity Benefit Payment must be used for obtaining necessary items for a baby and not for general living expenses. The parent’s social worker can advise and support if there has been difficulty in obtaining the Maternity Benefit. Normally the Maternity Benefit would have been spent before the placement starts. If need be up to £250 out of the Trust’s setting up allowance can be paid to carers at the beginning of a placement if basic clothing and equipment is required. Also carers can be loaned equipment in consultation with their supervising social worker.

Healthy Start Vouchers for children of parents on a low income, can be exchanged at most supermarkets for fresh or formula milk or fruit and vegetables. These vouchers will be available to all parents on Income Support and will be issued by the Benefits Offices.

A parent & baby foster carer needs to pay from the care payment part of their weekly fostering allowance to the parent s/he is supervising the following:

  • an allowance for the parent’s baby to cover two meals a day (normally breakfast and lunch), clothing, nappies, ‘outings’, birthday/Christmas presents, sundries and other periodic items not covered by the Maternity Payment.

The following, which are approximate (to the nearest pound) guidelines based on 2017/2018 benefits rates, should be followed:

  • baby allowance = £67.00
  • less Child Benefit - £20.00

(if in receipt of Child Benefit)

  • therefore baby allowance =£47.00

Some parents may not have started receiving Child Benefit by the time their placement starts. In such situations after consultation with the parent’s social worker the carer may make supplementary weekly payments to cover the temporary absence of Child Benefit, which should be repaid once Child Benefit and arrears start to be paid.

Also some parents may not have started receiving Income Support by the time their placement starts. Again in such situations after consultation with the parent’s social worker the carer may make supplementary weekly payments of £57.90 (based on Income Support rates) from the care payment of their weekly fostering allowance to cover the temporary absence of Income Support benefit which should be repaid once benefit and arrears start to be paid to the parent. The temporary personal allowance would help to cover the parent’s personal expenses including ‘pocket money’, clothing, phone calls, cosmetics, deodorants, sanitary protection, dry cleaning, birthday and Christmas presents for foster family members.

Foster carers should consult their supervising social worker if they or the parent have queries about the amount paid, which would normally have already been agreed at the meeting planning the parent & baby placement.

National benefit rates for Child Benefit and Income Support are valid from 06 April 2017



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