How to Choose Between Independent Fostering Agencies

If you want to be a foster parent, you will need to choose between working for an independent fostering agency (IFA) or the Local Authority first. Given that well-reputed IFAs often pay better, train better, and proactively support their foster carers, choosing to work for an independent foster care agency is usually the better choice.

Just like everything else, not all IFAs are equal. For those truly interested in joining the foster care system in the UK, it is highly recommended that you keep the following suggestions in mind while trying to find an independent fostering agency that will be a good fit for you.

The IFA Should At least Have a Grade 2 Ofsted Rating

Ofsted is the UK government’s assigned department that inspects, rates, and reports academic establishments and foster care agencies as required. There are four different grades in Ofsted ratings, which are as follows:

  1. Grade 1: Outstanding
  2. Grade 2: Good
  3. Grade 3: Requires Improvement
  4. Grade 4: Inadequate

Check the fostering agency’s website for their Ofsted rating. Grade 1 (Outstanding) is what you should be aiming for, but don’t settle for anything below Grade 2 (Good). If they don’t have an Ofsted rating visible on the site, chances are that they have been rated as Grade 3 or Grade 4. Ask them about it just to be sure, but don’t just take their word for it either.

They Should Have a Local Presence Near You

Working with a fostering agency that does not have a local presence can be tiresome and unnecessarily complicated. It would add extra travelling hours to your schedule every time you need to pay the agency a visit. The distance also makes communicating with them more difficult than it should be.

This is extra hassle you don’t need, so try to work with an IFA that actually has an office near you. For example, the has local offices from Sheffield to Bristol that cover all major locations across England.

Higher than Average Allowance

Money should not be the priority for any aspiring foster carer as genuine childcare can never be just about financial gain. Nevertheless, we all live in a very real world where our  needs must be met. Therefore, don’t sign up with a foster care agency that does not respect your time enough to pay what can be considered a competitive allowance.

Lastly, pay attention to the kind of support network the agency has for its foster care providers. A support network is essential to ensure that you will have the option to take breaks away from fostering when needed. Burnout is not uncommon among foster carers who don’t take breaks every once in a while.

Becoming a foster carer is a rewarding experience. You don’t need any special skills or qualifications, just empathy, compassion, and resilience. You might have raised your own children or step-children, or just love kids. If you think you can provide a loving home to a foster child, why not take the next step?

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