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Busting some common myths around age and fostering

At FCA Scotland, we welcome foster carers from all walks of life, but how does age impact the fostering process? Is it a factor? From age limits to pension worries, we bust the common myths around age and fostering.

June 20 2024 - 4 min read

Myth - There is an Age Limit for Fostering

False, there is no maximum age for fostering. Those who decide to become foster carers later in life can bring a wide range of transferable skills acquired from raising birth children and having previous careers. As long as you can keep up with the physical and emotional demands of caring for a child or young person with trauma and are in good health, you can foster. We assess each fostering application on a case-by-case basis. The assessment includes a GP review of your physical and mental health to check your overall well-being and ability to manage your responsibilities as a foster carer.

The type of foster carer you decide to become depends on how much time you can commit to the role. For example, Short Break Foster Care is ideal for those who can't commit to fostering full-time but still want to make a difference. Not only will you be helping children and young people by becoming their extended family, but you'll also be helping other foster parents take a break when they need it.

Myth – You can’t foster whilst receiving the State Pension

If you are a foster carer and are at retirement age, you will still receive your state pension. As a foster carer, you'll still receive your personal tax allowance of £12,570. You'll also benefit from the Qualifying Care Relief (QCR), a tax relief which means you can earn up to £18,140 along with £375 for children under 11 and £450 for children over 11 per week without paying tax.

Is fostering allowance taxed if you receive a pension?

Your fostering allowance is taxed separately from your other income. The amount of tax you pay depends on whether your income exceeds your personal tax allowance and the tax allowance for fostering income.

Example:

Tony is 66 and is currently receiving the maximum rate of the new State Pension, which is £11,502 per year.

Tony fosters two children aged 5 and 10 long-term, and they have been with him for the past year.

Income from Pension = £11,502

Income from Fostering = £44,450

Total Income = £55,952

Qualifying Care Relief (QCR) = £57,140

Total Income Tax Payable = 0

Because Tony has earned under his personal tax allowance of £12,570 and received a fostering income under his £57,140 tax allowance for fostering income, he won't need to pay any tax for the financial year.

For more information on income tax, pensions and fostering allowances, talk to your supervising social worker or speak to one of our team.

Do foster carers get a pension?

If you are a foster carer but not at retirement age, you'll be eligible for National Insurance Credits, so you can still receive your full state pension when you reach retirement age. You will need to submit a CF411A form along with evidence of fostering once a year.

Older foster parent with foster child

Myth - Older foster parents always match with teenagers

False. Older foster parents won't automatically match with teenagers. At FCA Scotland, our Referrals Team will get to know you and assess your skills, experience and personal qualities. So, when a child or young person is referred to us by the local authority, we know which foster parents they'll be best placed with.

Although you can voice your preferences, it's not always feasible to accommodate them because children and young people of all ages need a nurturing and loving home. However, our foster care training and 24/7 support will equip you to care for all ages; you won't be on this journey alone.

At FCA Scotland, we have a 95% matching success rate, which means children and young people have remained with their foster families for six months or more.

foster mum with foster children

Myth - The Best Age to Foster is 40 Plus

False, there is no 'best age' to become a foster carer. Each foster carer brings unique experiences and skills to the role. If you have experience working with children, are care experienced or have taken care of younger siblings, you can highlight these transferable skills and knowledge in your application.

You must have a spare room to foster, but you don’t have to own your home. You can foster if you rent your home, but you may need to seek permission from your landlord first. You must also be over 21, be legally allowed to work in the UK and be passionate about making a lasting difference to children and young people.

We welcome a diverse range of foster carers regardless of relationship status, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity. You can also foster if you have a disability and if you have birth children.

Myth – Fostering is not a Career Option

False! Whether you are starting your journey aged 21 or 51, fostering can be an excellent career option. What could be more rewarding than making a positive difference by helping a child or young person reach their full potential?

Reasons to Choose a Fostering Career with FCA Scotland

Training and Development

We provide extensive foster care training so you can provide trauma-informed care and advance in your career. Many of our courses are available online, so you can complete them from home, working them around your busy schedule.

  • Prepare to Foster Training - our pre-approval training will give you an insight into what it is like to be a child or young person in foster care, highlight the next steps to becoming a foster carer and prepare you with fundamental knowledge and skills to foster.
  • Mandatory Training - covers essential topics, such as Health and Safety, Child Protection and First aid. You'll complete some courses once, and other courses will need refreshing throughout your career.
  • Complementary Training - covers specialist topics, such as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, Complex Trauma and Understanding Neurodiversity. These courses can help you better understand the individual needs of each child and young person, giving you a greater breadth of knowledge and will teach you how to apply this knowledge in practice as a foster carer.

Support

When you foster with FCA Scotland, you become part of a supportive community dedicated to helping children and young people reach their full potential. We call this Team Parenting. Team parenting is about putting children and young people first by understanding and aiding their recovery from trauma in a therapeutic way.

The support we offer includes:

  • A dedicated supervising social worker who will work closely with you, helping you develop by monitoring your progress and answering any questions you may have.
  • Wrap-around support - Access to our network of highly qualified professionals who specialise in various areas of fostering. These may be therapists, educational leads, foster advisors and more.
  • Carer Buddies - Existing foster carers who have become mentors to help other foster carers through assessments and the challenges of everyday fostering life.
  • Online support - Our online portal gives you access to our latest news, information, foster care handbook, local events and more.
  • Free membership to FosterTalk - FosterTalk is an independent organisation that offers services and advice to all fostering professionals.

Fostering Allowances

At FCA Scotland, we reward our foster parents for their hard work and dedication with competitive fostering payments and rewards.

Our foster parents earn, on average, £535 per week, and due to Qualifying Care Relief (QCR), you'll pay less income tax than you would if you were in traditional employment.

Although our financial calculator is a fantastic tool for estimating how much fostering allowance you could receive, various factors determine your fostering income:

  • Number of children you foster - If you foster more than one child or young person, your weekly fostering allowance will increase.
  • Individual needs - each child and young person is unique; some will have more complex needs that require additional training so you can give them the care they deserve.
  • Type of fostering - allowances differ depending on the variety of fostering you choose; we offer long-term, interim, short break, specialist fostering and more.
  • Your region - each region's allowances differ, so speak to your local centre to discover how much you could receive.
  • Not only will you receive a generous financial allowance, but you'll also receive additional payments and rewards, such as:
  • A winter and summer £250 bonus.
  • Up to 14 nights of paid short break care, so you can take a break if and when needed.
  • Access to discounts and rewards from hundreds of retailers.
  • Rewards for reaching fostering milestones.
  • An appreciation bonus.
  • Annual events to celebrate your dedication to your role.

Working and Fostering

Although we offer competitive foster allowances and rewards, some foster carers work alongside fostering due to rising living costs and financial commitments. Working and fostering can be feasible, but it is vital to consider the flexibility of your other job role and how it will impact your commitment to fostering. You'll need to be available to attend training and to take the child or young person in your care to appointments and family time. They may have to stay home from school because they are ill, and you'll need to be home during the school holidays. The child or young person you are fostering should always be the priority, so it is crucial to be mindful of this when considering working alongside fostering.

Foster carers of all ages and from all walks of life are welcome and celebrated at FCA Scotland. So, if you are considering a fostering career and have any questions, contact us today!