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How to choose a foster agency

If you’re not sure where to start when you’re choosing between fostering agencies, our checklist should help you understand the topics that are worth your while to consider.

Key questions about foster agencies

If you’re new to fostering, there’s a lot of information to process and you might not know where to start. Whichever foster agency you decide to sign up with, you need to have complete reassurance you’re making the right decision. These are the main topics you should be paying extra attention to.

Levels of support

Ideally, you will want to work with a foster agency that has a team and resources local to you. Fostering is brilliant – but it’s challenging too. The support of a local team with a dedicated supporting social worker and an active peer group will make all the difference. Our carers have told us their relationship with their dedicated social worker is of paramount importance to them, with 7 out of 10 carers stating it is this relationship and the support they get from their social worker that keeps them happy and fostering.

Pay

Choose a foster agency who is transparent about how much fostering allowance you will be paid and what else you might get financial help with, like birthday presents or disability modifications to your home. Choose a foster agency that encourages you to discuss finances with them.

Training

As well as giving you the skills to fulfil your role as a foster carer, training is an opportunity for personal development and can help make you the fostering expert. Choose a foster agency that gives you plenty of good training opportunities at a venue local to you or online.

Perks and benefits

From foster carer home insurance to high street discounts and legal advice, a first class foster agency will make sure you have everything you need – and then some! After all, it’s the little things that make all the difference.

Mission and values

Foster carers are self employed but it’s an important role and you’re entitled to know and feel you’re part of something bigger. Your ideal foster agency should articulate what they stand for and everything they do should uphold this vision.

Oftsed ratings

Every independent fostering agency has to register with Ofsted and have regular inspections. Make sure your foster agency is rated as OUTSTANDING or GOOD with a clear roadmap to consistent improvement and excellence.

Reputation

What do other foster carers say about a foster agency? What do the foster children themselves say? Testimonials and case studies are insightful when you’re trying to get a feel for whether a foster agency is going to be good for you.

Partnerships

Hand-in-hand with its mission and values, a foster agency will forge good relationships with other organisations. This will start with the local authority but will be much further reaching. Our partners, for example, include Investors in People, The Fostering Network and New Family Social.

Experience

Look for a foster agency that is well-established. There’s nothing quite like knowing you have experience at your back. In addition, foster agencies who have been established for a number of years are more financially robust. On a personal level, the experience of your local teams is important too – these are the people you will have most contact with, who will be supporting you in your role.

The tears in our 17 year old lad's eyes as he hugged us both goodbye when moving on to his next phase said more than any words could have.

Over 2 months on, the fact that he just knocks on our front door and walks in to say hi and stop for a coffee and a sandwich reminds us that despite any challenges along the way, we did in fact make a huge difference to his life and he to ours and he still regards us as his home. This could not have been achieved without the initial training and ongoing training supplied by National Fostering Group.

More importantly, we are extremely fortunate to have a supporting social worker who has your back from the initial matching for you and your child through to move-on. At a time when social workers are very stretched, this can not be over stated. Our social worker is excellent and works extremely hard to support all of her foster carers and their children. She is very efficient and on the ball and has no problem in pushing us on when we sometimes begin to doubt ourselves.

Mick, National Fostering Group foster carer

The largest independent fostering agency in the UK

National Fostering Group is one of the most-well established foster agencies in the UK and we support the most carers. In fact, we tick all the boxes above. Take some time to explore the pages we’ve linked to – we provide you with as much information as we can, to help you make an informed decision.

What is an independent fostering agency?

An independent fostering agency (also known simply as a foster agency) trains, approves and supports foster carers as they look after children or young people. They can be a private organisation or have charitable status and must be registered with Ofsted.

Children and young people who can’t, for whatever reason, continue to be cared for at home become the responsibility of their local authority. Unfortunately, there is high demand for foster carers that local authorities can’t fulfil. Fostering agencies work with local authorities to provide the skilled foster carers needed.

The requirements of the foster child placements vary, from emergency or short term to long term and remand fostering.

What’s your next step?

If you have questions, your local National Fostering Group team will be more than happy to have an informal chat, with no pressure to sign up.

Start your fostering journey with National Fostering Group

  • We have fostering agencies all across the UK
  • Over 3,000 carers already part of our family
  • Benefit from our local support groups and social workers
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