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
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).
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:
Foster carers get allowances to cover the day-to-day expenses of caring for the child. We will also pay you a professional fostering fee.
Rates for less than two years' service
Allowance rates for 2023–24 including professional fostering fee (for carers with less than two years service):
- £279.92 to £353.07 per child, per week
Higher rates available
Your experience as a foster carer is valuable to us and the children waiting for a family. Please talk to us about the special weekly rates we offer:
- up to £373.07 for experienced carers
- further enhanced rates based on the needs of the child for a period of time
Weekly allowance rates when caring for children of all ages with disabilities:
- £414.14 to £434.14
Weekly allowance rate for parent(s) and child placements:
- £831.09 to £1,456.99
There are additional payments for festivals like Christmas, 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 www.gov.uk 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:
- The Fostering Network
- Foster carer fees and maintenance allowances
- Claiming benefits while you foster
- FAQs about tax
- National insurance and tax
- Mortgage information
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:
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:
Vinnie the Van 2023 community information events
Vinnie the Van visits locations across East Sussex. Staff are there to chat and answer your questions:
- Tuesday 12th December 11am to 1pm - Freedom Leisure, Bexhill Leisure Centre
- Can't make one of these? See above for our online events or if you'd like to know more, call us soon. Part-time and full-time fostering opportunities are always available.
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:
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.
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.
- 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.