Choosing a fostering agency can be confusing. With so many agencies out there, what makes each agency different?
In this blog we talk to Sal, Fostering Service Manager in the Southwest of England, about how fostering agencies work. Learn about the different agencies and what to expect from fostering with Action for Children.
How are fostering agencies different to one another?
There are three main types of fostering agencies. Local authority, private and not-for-profit. Both private and not-for-profit agencies are known as Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs).
Sal says, “There’s a lot of diversity within agencies. All the children we find families for come into care via the Local Authority. They’ll try to find and match children with suitable fostering families. But because there are so many children to find homes for, the local authority refers children to Independent Fostering Agencies, like ourselves.”
"Action for Children is a charity and choose to support fostering"
Of the 12 million children living in England, over 80,000 of these children are in care.*
“Action for Children is a charity and choose to support fostering not because we have to or because we profit from it. We do it because we want to provide really stable families to some of the most vulnerable children in the country.”
Why are children placed into foster care?
Children may have a different experience and journey when they go through care.
For some children, the parent made the decision for them to be looked after. That could be for a short period of time or a longer period, depending on the circumstances. While the young person is settled, vital work can happen with the family.
“Most children have been removed from their birth family because they’ve experienced abuse and neglect. Often these children are extremely traumatised.
"Most children have been removed from their birth family because they’ve experienced abuse and neglect"
"Children may remain with their foster carers for the rest of their childhood, and sometimes beyond this age through a ‘staying put agreement.’ This means they can stay with the foster family up to the age of 25.
“We provide long-term, stable homes for children who the local authority can't support internally through their foster carers. This could be because there is a capacity issue or because the children are harder to place. For example, they might be older children or sibling groups, and some may have complex needs.”
What support do foster carers get?
Foster carers receive exceptionally high levels of support from Action for Children.
Sal says, “We provide high levels of support and training for foster carers which is tailored to them and the child they’re supporting. Our social workers get lots of training too, and caseloads are kept small enabling social workers more time with their foster carers.
“Our goal is to give as much support as we can to families, so they feel supported by us. Giving children every chance to experience long-term stability. We’re there for the long haul.”
All Action for Children foster carers receive:
Why foster with Action for Children?
Many of our foster carers choose Action for Children because we’re a charity and always put children first.
Sal says, “We put children at the center of every decision. Any money we make goes back into supporting the next child that needs it. Foster Carers often say we’re like a family."
"From the beginning, fostering with Action for Children felt like a family and that we were part of something special"
Sal said, “We are often small services with social workers that stay for a long time. We’re all in it together, everyone has a voice, and we’re all in it to make a difference to children.”
How do I decide on a fostering agency?
Sal highlights the questions to ask when choosing the right agency for you.
“If you’re interested in fostering, explore a range of agencies and their background. Know what support you’ll receive, the support needs of the children in care and ask about the teams. Talk to them about the types of children you’re looking to support.”
Get in touch to learn more about fostering with a leading UK children's charity
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