FINDING THE BEST FOSTERING AGENCY FOR YOU
Becoming a foster carer and providing support to a child in need will change your life, there’s no doubt about that! If you’ve ever had the opportunity to ask foster carers about their journey, most will tell you that it has made a wonderful difference in their lives. It can be a bit overwhelming when you start to realise everything that is required to become a foster carer. From training requirements, ensuring your home is suitable and many other considerations, it can be easy to overlook an important aspect of the fostering process. If you’ve already done some personal research, you may have noticed that there are several different agencies you can choose to support you along your journey. You may have said to yourself, “I want to foster, but which is the best fostering agency for me?” If this question has crossed your mind, don’t worry, you’re not alone!
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent it can be tricky to know how and where to start. Technically as a foster carer you will be self-employed, but as you will work with an independent agency or your local authority it’s important that you take the time to find someone that you feel happy and comfortable with, and offers you the support you need.
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF FOSTERING AGENCY
There are two different roads that you can follow to become a foster carer. One is to use a local authority, and the other is to join an independent fostering agency. Usually, a local authority service will work alongside the authorities social work department. Local authorities have their own pool of foster carers who they select and train themselves. Their social workers have higher caseloads and are unable to provide the same support that an independent agency can. Independent fostering agencies, like Lorimer Fostering, help to provide placement opportunities for children that the local authority are unable to place with a foster carer. Independent agencies have their own foster carers who they are responsible for training and supporting.
WORKING WITH AN INDEPENDENT FOSTERING AGENCY
As agency social workers are likely to have fewer carers to support, they are typically able to offer more thorough, individual support to each foster carer. Independent fostering agencies also tend to have their own values and beliefs, so with some research, you are sure to find an agency that perfectly matches your own fostering goals. Independent agencies are committed to working with their foster carers to ensure the best outcomes for young people in placement. Because of this, they have very strong support and networking groups in place to help carers when they need it most.
SO, WHO IS THE BEST FOSTERING AGENCY FOR YOU?
To make sure you have found the best fostering agency for you, you will need to do lots of research. Shortlist a couple of agencies that you like the look of, and get in touch with them. You can arrange to meet with a few different agencies for an informal chat. This will help you to decide which agency you feel best matched with. You should put together a list of questions to ask, which will help you determine what is on offer from each agency. We’ve put together a quick list below of questions to get you started:
- Does the agency give 24/7 support?
- Do they provide regular training for foster carers?
- Do they offer respite care? (an opportunity for you to take breaks and holidays while fostering)
- Will they reimburse me for the child’s basic needs?
- Does the agency have enough staff to support their foster carers?
- Do they offer additional allowances for young people in placement?
- Does the agency have a good reputation?
- Do they have the correct accreditation?
We hope this article has given you a better idea of how to find the best fostering agency for you. If you have any questions that haven’t already been answered above, please get in touch. You can book an informal chat with Lorimer Fostering by heading to our ‘Get In Touch‘ page.