In this recent blog post, Team Fostering CEO, Vicky Davidson Boyd, offers her thoughts on being a not-for -profit fostering agency...
I have read lots of information recently about “for- profit” and “not-for-profit fostering” agencies.Many people aren’t aware that there are fostering and adoption agencies that make a profit, but from speaking with foster carers on a daily basis, I have found that once they are aware of an agency being not-for-profit, they really care about the values and ethos that support this.
Articles like 'Why do we let fostering agencies profit from caring for vulnerable children?', from fellow Fostering through Social Enterprise (FtSE) member TACT, are beginning to highlight the issue, but more needs to be done to raise awareness amongst the general public about different types of providers, the services and support each alternate provider can offer and how this is funded. Many fostering agencies are set up on a profit making basis but that isn’t the case for every independent fostering provider . Some, including Team Fostering, are Social Enterprises, which means that we operate for a social purpose. There are no shareholders and all of our profits are reinvested in services for children and families.
Children can be in care for a number of months or even years. We are seeing more and more requests for planned long term foster placements. This can mean a child stays with their foster carers up until 18, or even 21 on a Staying Put Placement. With the ever increasing Local Authority cuts, fostering agencies, like us, need to be confident that we can provide and sustain high quality care for children and young people on a long term basis and so we need to sustain the support offered to foster carers. Being a not-for-profit agency is one of the ways in which Team Fostering does this as we never have to make allowances for shareholders or investors and can offer better value to our Local Authority customers.
So, what does being not for profit mean in practice? Well, in the case of our agency, Team Fostering, it means being truly child centred. We invest as much as we possibly can in our foster carers, and in support and services to give the children we look after the very best chance of a good future. This includes education support, activities, and even therapeutic support in some cases, to promote good long term outcomes for children. Also, participation groups to help children have a voice in the agency, as well as great quality, relevant training and a generous fee to our foster carers.
Perhaps surprisingly, we are one of the highest paying fostering agencies when it comes to our foster carers; something that I personally believe is necessary to recognise the support and commitment provided by foster carers to children and young people. All of this is funded by our not-for-profit status.
There are many ways in which this makes a difference. For example, we provide:
Fostering is not a decision that is made lightly. It is a commitment and a job like no other and foster carers should feel that they are going into this from an informed position, and with the agency that shares their values.
If you are thinking of applying to foster and you haven’t yet made up your mind which agency to go to, I hope that one of the questions you ask is “what do you do with your profits?”
If you share the values that I have described, please get in touch with us at Team Fostering as we’d very much like to hear from you.
Vicky Davidson Boyd
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