More than one-third of foster carers have considered giving up fostering because the fees do not provide a living wage, according to a report published today.
Three-quarters of foster carers surveyed for Love Fostering – Need Pay, commissioned by the Fostering Network, earned less than £229.20 a week – which at the time was the minimum wage for a 40-hour week – including half who received no fee at all.
Two-thirds (65%) of foster carers described their fees as an “insufficient reward for the job” while 36% said the low pay had forced them to consider giving up fostering.
Report author Madeleine Tearse said: “It’s unacceptable that so many foster carers are required to work for free or such low pay.
“Fostering has changed over the years, and foster carers are now expected to carry out skilled and demanding work to a professional standard, which should be recognised with professional rates of pay.”
Although 34% of foster carers surveyed said they supplemented their income with extra work, 62% were entirely dependent on their income through fostering.
The Fostering Network is calling for full-time foster carers to receive “at least the equivalent of the minimum wage” and for government to introduce legislation and funding on this “as soon as possible.”
“Low pay is not helping fostering services to recruit and retain the number of foster carers needed,” Tearse said. “We are calling for decent pay across the board, but this will require support from national government administrations.”
The report follows news that the Fostering Network has been awarded nearly £450,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to develop and support foster care associations in England.
Deputy chief executive Raina Sheridan said the three-year grant would help to develop an outreach service, training and 15 new foster care associations.