Foster carer allowance changes
Types of carer allowances
- Fortnightly caring allowance
- Regional and remote loading
- Establishment allowance
- Start-up/Outfitting allowance
- High Support Needs Allowance (HSNA)
- Complex Support Needs Allowance (CSNA)
The fortnightly caring allowance is the base payment provided to all approved carers when providing direct care for a child cared for under the Child Protection Act 1999. It is also paid to long‐term guardians and permanent guardians who were approved carers for the child prior to being granted long‐term guardianship. It is paid fortnightly in arrears, at different rates depending on the age of the child.
While the allowance may not cover all costs associated with caring for a child, it is expected to help meet the day-to-day costs of caring, such as:
- day-to-day reasonable clothing and footwear, including one school outfitting per year
- personal care items
- general schooling and education expenses, including lunches and travel
- costs for consulting with a GP (excluding Child Health Passport assessments)
- all prescribed and non-prescribed pharmaceuticals
- general travel costs, including fuel costs up to 250km per week (excluding for approved family contact)
- leisure and recreational activities, toys, pocket money, entertainment, hobbies and holiday expenses
- safety equipment such as car seats, bike helmets
- energy and utility costs (pro rata)
- household goods for the child.
The allowance is not an income for providing care. This means that you do not need to declare it in your tax return and does not affect any Commonwealth benefits you may receive. It also cannot be used as ‘income’ when applying for a bank loan.
Sometimes processing errors may result in underpayments or overpayments. If this happens, please let your Child Safety Officer (CSO) know. If you have been overpaid, you will be required to reimburse the overpaid amount to Child Safety.
Young people aged 18 years
To support a young person’s transition to adulthood, Child Safety will pay the fortnightly caring allowance to all approved carers, as well as to long‐term guardians and permanent guardians, when they are caring for a young person who has turned 18 – up until they reach 19 years – regardless of their education status.
Regional and remote loading is an additional fortnightly payment in locations with higher retail prices, paid at 10% of the fortnightly caring allowance. It is paid to carers residing in the child safety service centre (CSSC) areas of Cape York South (including Cooktown), Cape York North and Torres Strait Islands (including Weipa and Thursday Island), Emerald, Gladstone, Mackay, Mt Isa, parts of Roma, and applicable Aboriginal Councils and Indigenous communities.
Dual payment of carer allowances
Dual payments provide the carer allowances concurrently to both the primary carer and respite carer for the period of time the child is in respite care, where approved by the CSSC Manager, capped at:
- 52 days per financial year for a child with moderate or high support needs
- 78 days per financial year for a child with complex or extreme support needs but not exceeding the equivalent of three days per fortnight
- an additional 20 days per financial year for emergent respite.
Where dual payments are not paid, only the respite carer will receive the allowances.
The establishment allowance is a one‐off payment provided the first time a child enters care. It is to assist the carer with establishment costs for ongoing placements of one month or longer. Generally the items purchased remain the property of the child. A child subject to an assessment order or a temporary custody order is not eligible. Payment is automatic for carers who meet the eligibility criteria, and payment is processed with the fortnightly caring allowance.
The start-up/outfitting allowance is a one‐off payment for initial set up costs to establish appropriate accommodation and resources for a new placement longer than 5 nights, including respite care placements. This allowance may be paid for placements less than 5 nights depending on the child’s need and the individual circumstances of the carer.
The HSNA may be provided to assist a carer with the direct care costs of a child assessed as having a high level of support needs where the needs consistently result in costs exceeding the fortnightly caring allowance.
The CSO will discuss with the carer and the care service support worker at a placement meeting, and will submit an application for the CSSC Manager’s approval. The application will provide evidence of the assessment of the child’s high level of strengths and needs, and describe how the allowance will be used to respond to the child’s strengths and needs. A carer can also make an application for the HSNA.
The HSNA will be approved for a set period or on an ongoing basis (for a child with ongoing medical or psychological needs).
The CSNA may be provided to assist a carer meet the direct and additional indirect costs of caring for a child assessed as having a complex or extreme level of support needs, that consistently result in costs exceeding both the fortnightly caring allowance and HSNA, due to there being more costly expenses, a wider range of expenses and/or a greater frequency of expenses. The CSO will discuss with the carer and the agency support worker at a placement meeting, and will submit an application for the CSSC Manager's approval. This will include:
- the assessed strengths and needs of the child
- the available support options for the child
- how and to what extent the child’s needs result in increased costs to the carer
- the longevity and frequency of the expected additional costs
- the additional indirect costs.
The CSNA is paid fortnightly at one of 3 different rates, depending on the cost impact on the carer’s household. It is expected the payment will cover the child’s medical needs, transport, recreation and leisure, skills development, family contact and additional indirect care costs. Find out more about the effect of NDIS on complex support needs allowance (PDF).
Permanent guardians of a child may be eligible for Complex support needs allowance or High support needs allowance in exceptional circumstances for a time limited period (not exceeding 6 months) only where the review of the child’s case plan indicates that:
- the guardian requires assistance to establish a care environment for the child to meet the child's ongoing needs or
- the child has emerging special needs.
Carer payment amounts
|Carer payments (as at January 2020*)||Frequency of payment||0 - 5 years||6 - 10 years||11+ years|
Fortnightly Caring Allowance
Regional and remote loading
High Support Needs Allowance
Complex Support Needs Allowance - Level 1
Complex Support Needs Allowance - Level 2
Complex Support Needs Allowance - Level 3
* All payments and allowances are indexed in January each year in line with the consumer price index (CPI).
If you require any further information about the legislative changes as they relate to permanency and the permanent care order, refer to the document ‘Frequently Asked Questions for carer and care services’ on the Child Safety legislation reform page.