Becoming a foster carer

There is no such thing as a 'typical' or 'standard' foster carer. Each different foster carer brings a wide range of life and work experiences.

ESCC foster carers are:

  • from a variety of backgrounds, circumstances, religions, ethnicities and cultures
  • single, married or cohabiting
  • all genders and sexual orientations
  • over 21 years old (there’s no upper age limit)
  • diverse and may manage a physical disability or mental health condition

If you have any questions, or want to find out if fostering could be the right choice for you, please get in touch via phone, enquiry form or join an online information session soon.

What you need

  • A genuine interest in helping children through a difficult time in their lives.
  • As a family, to have time in your lives and space in your home to care for a child or young person.
  • Experience as parents or of caring for children.
  • Energy and enthusiasm to keep up with the demands of an active child.
  • Patience, tolerance, resilience and good communications skills.
  • A warm and welcoming home, with or without pets (you do not need to own your home).
  • A spare bedroom so that the foster child has a space to make their own.
  • A positive and flexible approach to life, supporting our children to develop a strong sense of their own identity which may differ to your own (identity, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, sexuality, disability).

I listen and help them see positives, there are different ways to view a situation. With our help they can change the pattern and see their future. That's my job and I love it.

Jackie – foster carer for teenagers (for 23 years)

You’ll be part of a team alongside social workers and the children’s parents. You’ll attend meetings. You will take children and young people to health or education appointments. You might also work with a child’s school to help them attend or be able to learn.

You don’t need qualifications, but you do need to be willing to attend regular training. We offer a wide range of opportunities to develop your interests and skills.

Working with you, we will match the child with the foster carer. We will consider the child’s needs, your skills, experience and of course your family.

Follow us on social media and keep up-to-date with our news and events:

In this film below, we see the story of siblings Sophie and Charlie. They are struggling to cope with their daily lives as children when they are neglected by the adult who should be there caring for them. Sophie seeks help at school and they go to live with a foster carer.  Their childhoods take a positive turn and they begin to thrive.

- A short film about how foster carers can give children back their childhood

Watch on YouTube: "A short film about how foster carers can give children back their childhood"

Foster carers receive a weekly maintenance allowance to cover the day-to-day expenses of caring for each child.

We will also pay you a professional fostering fee which reflects the needs of the young person.  These payments are made per child, per week.

The following table represents these payments combined.

Fostering Maintenance Allowance + Professional Fee
Age Weekly payments total
0 to 4 years £403 to £563
5 to 10 years £428 to £588
11 to 15 years £458 to £618
16+ years £498 to £658
Parent and child fostering £1,221 (based on 1 parent and 1 child together)

Additional payments

There are additional payments for festivals like Christmas, birthdays, mileage or day care. Please get in touch for more information regarding any payments which may be available for our foster carers.

Tax, national insurance and benefits

It's important that you understand what fostering will mean for your finances, now and in the future.  As a foster carer you may be entitled to claim benefits and tax credits.  Foster carers are self-employed and as such, you need to be aware of government requirements for tax and national insurance contributions.

There is a whole range of information to help.  As an approved foster carer for ESCC, you will become a member of The Fostering Network who have lots of free resources to help you with advice and information and you can refer to too.

When you foster with ESCC we provide you with a bespoke calculator tool which you can use to help work out your Qualifying Care Relief (a special tax threshold specifically for foster carers).  Each year we provide you with all the annual figures you will need to submit in your tax return too.

Some useful links:

Transferring to East Sussex County Council Fostering Service

You can still transfer with a child already in placement, even if they are placed with you by another local authority. We will guarantee that you continue with the same rate of payment for the duration of that placement. We can discuss payment for experienced and transferring foster carers in more detail when you contact us.

Follow us on social media

To keep up-to-date with our latest news and events:

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Virtual information events

The team are available to talk to you online and answer your questions on video calls.

To sign up to one of our online information events, please click on your preferred date below:

Keep an eye on EastSussexFostering on Twitter EastSussexFostering on Instagram and East Sussex Fostering on Facebook for more details.

Van used to hold information events about fostering with East Sussex County Council.

Vinnie the Van 2024 community pop-up information events

Vinnie the Van visits locations across East Sussex. Staff and Recruitment Ambassadors are there to chat and answer your questions:

  • Thursday 18th April 10am to 12.30pm at The View Hotel, Eastbourne for the 'Your Experience Counts' Job Fair
  • See above for our online events or if you'd like to know more, please call us.  Part-time and full-time fostering opportunities are always available throughout the county.

Please give us a call with any questions 01323 464129

We also advertise these events on social media

To keep up-to-date with our latest news and events:

Contact us

You don’t need to attend an information event to start a fostering application process. Please get in touch with us direct for an informal chat.

Our foster carers come first

We are responsible for placing every child in East Sussex who needs care, from newborns to teenagers.

We always give priority to place children with our own foster carers first, rather than with an agency.

We will only consider using carers from an independent fostering agency if we do not have enough available foster carers of our own at the time.

You probably have more questions... so please contact us directly or join one of our virtual information events.

Help and advice for you – day or night

  • Every foster carer has a dedicated social worker who is locally based in East Sussex.
  • 24-hour telephone helpline is available, 7 days a week, for help and advice.

The support with East Sussex has been excellent. We’ve been supported all the way through.

Sarah – foster carer

Ongoing training

  • Excellent training ensures you have the right skills to foster before you start.
  • Further regular local training enables you to improve your knowledge and develop your skills to help your fostering journey. This includes optional higher formal qualifications if you'd like to gain these too.

Ongoing support for the child – all under one roof

  • We offer joined up support – all under one roof.
  • Each foster child has their own dedicated social worker.
  • To help the child achieve at school, there’s advice, support and assistance. Additional teaching support is also available if needed.
  • Children’s Mental Health Services are also on hand to provide support.

Benefits of fostering with the East Sussex Fostering Service

  • We always have local children waiting to be placed and offer all placements to our in-house carers first to make the best matches and ensure better outcomes for the children.
  • We will only use carers from an independent fostering agency if we do not have enough foster carers of our own to match a specific placement.
  •  81% of placements made in 2022/23 were with ESCC’s own carers.
  • 2023 new training packages tailored to current foster carer needs.
  • Out-of-hours support so you’re never alone facing difficult situations.
  • Local support groups who meet up regularly.
  • Knowing that we don’t make a profit from vulnerable children who need to be looked after. We’re a local authority, not a private company. No shareholders.
  • If you have your own children, they can join our established YPWF (Young People Who Foster) group where they can enjoy events and activities which we fund throughout the year. We recognise and reward the positive impact they make to your fostered children too!

A network of support for you

  • Individual membership to the Fostering Network and the East Sussex Foster Care Association.
  • Social events for everyone in our foster care team – you, your children, the children you care for and professional colleagues.
  • A specialist team who work alongside foster carers of young people 16+ to support their guidance to learn the skills they need to live by themselves when they are no longer in care.

- Recruitment video for the East Sussex County Council Fostering Service

Watch on YouTube: "Recruitment video for the East Sussex County Council Fostering Service"