Foster care payments: How much do foster carers get paid in Queensland and Australia?

There are a lot of things that you’ll need to consider when you’re thinking about becoming a foster carer, like what kind of care is right for you, or how to talk to your family about foster care. Planning ahead financially is no less important, so we’ve put together a basic guide to the financial support foster carers in Queensland are eligible for.

What payments for foster carers are available in Queensland?

As per the Child Protection Act, approved foster and kinship carers are entitled to a carer allowance, paid fortnightly from the state government. As of January 2023, foster carers in Queensland are paid a base allowance between $525.56 and $664.16 per fortnight*. The amount you will get paid depends on the age and needs of the child or young person in your care, and the allowance increases annually in line with inflation. Allowances are calculated pro rata – so for example, if you provide respite care two weekends per month, your foster carers allowance will be calculated based on the portion of each fortnight that you are providing care.

What is covered by the fortnightly foster care allowance?

The day-to-day costs of caring for your foster child should be covered by this allowance. This includes things like clothes and shoes, food, bus tickets, visits to the doctor, toys, pocket money and household goods. Some other one-off expenses may be approved for reimbursement by your Child Safety Officer depending on the circumstances – this is something you can discuss with your care team. An irregular expense could be the costs involved with medical bills, education costs (like field trips), or travelling for family contact reasons. 

Foster care is a voluntary undertaking, so it’s likely that there will be times when you will incur expenses that the foster carer payments may not cover. This is something you should consider when you’re thinking about becoming a foster carer – how will caring for your foster child impact your financial situation?

What about when I start fostering?

When a child is first granted a child protection order, there will be an establishment allowance to assist with one-off costs that might have arisen when a child is first in foster care. This foster care payment may take several months to process and is only granted if the child has a protection order, so thinking about what initial costs you might have should be part of your planning.

Any time a child in foster care moves to a new placement that is longer than five days, there is a start-up allowance to cover basic items that they might need, for instance nappies, new clothes, or other essentials.

The items bought with both these carer allowances will generally belong to the child, so if they move on to a different placement you should make sure they take all these items with them.  

Is the foster carer allowance different for foster children with high or complex needs??

If the cost of caring for your foster child consistently exceeds the standard fortnightly foster parent payment, due to expenses such as high ongoing medical or psychological fees, a High Support Needs Allowance (HSNA) or Complex Support Needs Allowance (CNSA) may be available. This will be assessed by Child Safety.

According to the Department of Child Safety, Seniors and Disability Services, as of January 2023, foster carers of children with high support are paid an additional child care subsidy of $199.64 per fortnight. Foster carers of children with complex support needs receive an additional $258.58 - $774.90, depending on the complexity level.

How much do emergency foster carers get paid?

Emergency foster carers are paid the same rate as other forms of foster care. Allowances are calculated pro rata – so, for example, if you provide emergency care for three days, your foster carers allowance will be calculated based on the portion of each fortnight that you are providing care.

How much do you get for fostering a teenager?

The fortnightly foster payment amount currently increases between the ages of:

  • 0-5 years old
  • 6-10 years old
  • 11+ years old

The base fortnightly caring allowance for teenagers, as of January 2023, is $664.16.

Are kinship carers eligible for financial compensation?

Like foster carers, kinship carers may also be eligible for kinship care allowances. This may depend on the custody arrangements they have with the child’s parents, and whether there is a child protection order in place. 

What else do I need to know about finance and foster care?

It’s important to remember this is an allowance and not considered income for tax purposes. This means it isn’t reported as income on your tax return and, if you are applying for a loan, for instance a mortgage or car loan, it can’t be considered by your lender. You may also be eligible for other financial support, for instance a federal family tax benefit, discounts at certain businesses and smoke alarm subsidy. For full information on financial support available to foster carers, visit the Queensland Government website.

For more information about foster and kinship care, more generally, including inspiring foster carer stories, download our Foster Care Information Kit.

Can I be a foster carer?

Now that you know there is financial support available for foster carers, your next consideration might be whether you're eligible to apply. As long as you're over 18, in good health, and have a desire to make a difference in the lives of children and young people in need, you can apply. Learn more in the video below! 

You Be You is empowered by Anglicare Southern Queensland. For over 30 years, our dedicated foster care team has been helping people just like you to make a real difference to the lives of kids in foster care. If you're curious about foster care, watch our free online foster care information session, visit our foster care resources library, or get in touch with our team.

* figures current as of January 2023.

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