About the Carer Payment
All carers receive a Standard Age Carer Payment. This is a contribution towards the reimbursement of direct costs associated with looking after children and young people placed in care. The Standard Age Carer Payments are aligned with the cost of providing care (as published by the Social Policy Research Centre of NSW).
The Standard Age Carer Payment is not considered a source of income for the purposes of annual tax returns, testing eligibility for Australian Government allowances, or when applying for loans from a financial institution. The payment is paid on a fortnightly basis by electronic funds transfer (EFT) direct to the carer’s bank account. Every year, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) reviews the allowance rates, and adjusts them according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Expenses covered by the Standard Age Carer Payment
The Standard Age Carer Payment is calculated to cover a range of everyday care expenses that arise when caring for children and young people. In general terms, expenses to be covered by the Standard Age Carer Payment include:
- food and accommodation
- household provisions
- general clothing and footwear
- school books, stationery and excursions
- toys and incidental gifts
- pocket money
- leisure, hobby activities
- outings and entertainment
- daily travel expenses
- incidental child minding costs
- general expenses relating to personal hygiene items including nappies
- basic medical, dental and pharmaceutical expenses (where these expenses are not related to an ongoing or chronic condition).
2015/16 Foster Care Allowances per week
As shown in the table below, allowances are calculated according to the age and need of the child. Payments are made fortnightly.
|Level 1 - Remote
|Level 2 - Remote
|Level 3 - Remote
|Level 4 - Remote
Payments for caring for children with complex needs
DCF provides a higher rate of reimbursement for children assessed as having more complex needs. The care needs of each child are regularly assessed to ensure that the necessary services are provided and an appropriate level of payment is paid. Higher allowances are called Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4.
Remote area loading
DCF pays a remote area loading to carers living in remote or very remote locations. Areas that are eligible for the remote area loading include Alice Springs, Katherine, Nhulunbuy and Tennant Creek.
DCF pays an establishment payment of $200 to every new placement, to help with immediate purchases to ensure the child enters the placement with sufficient personal items. DCF also ensures that adequate provisions are made for each placement when these costs are over and beyond the $200 establishment payment. The Caseworker will discuss with the carer what items the carer can purchase with the establishment payment, and whether there are any other additional start-up items which are indispensable for a new placement.
Additional child-related expenses
Occasionally children in care may require other items above their day-to-day expenses. DCF may cover many of these expenses, but it is always important to check first, as these payments need to be pre-approved before carers can be reimbursed. It is also important that such expenses are discussed with the child's Caseworker, as the item or activity needs to be considered in terms of their entire care plan and may need approval from the birth family. Examples of extra expenses that DCF may cover include specialist medical treatment, advanced educational or sporting equipment and activities, or furniture required to meet special needs of the child.
Respite daily payment rates
DCF will pay for respite care for children on a case-by-case basis to ensure that carers are able to take short breaks from caring, where necessary. Respite care can be arranged for up to four nights. Respite payment rates are based on the age and needs of the child and paid per night in respite care. Ongoing fortnightly payment arrangements are not affected when a child is in respite care.
|Respite Level 1
|Respite Level 2
|Respite Level 3
|Respite Level 4