What's an independent fostering agency?
There are a number of differences between fostering with an independent foster care agency and fostering with your local authority, and deciding which is right for you is an important step in your journey.
Fosterplus is one of many independent fostering agencies (IFA's) in the UK, who work closely with local authorities to find safe, loving homes for children in foster care.
Finding enough good quality foster parents to care for the rising number of looked after children is an ongoing challenge for local authorities, and one that they’re unable to accomplish alone; particularly for older children, siblings and young people with disabilities, where it's generally a little more difficult to find suitable foster homes.
Therefore, independent fostering agencies in the UK work hard to recruit, train and support foster parents to be able to care for these young people and provide them with the enjoyable childhood they deserve.
Independent fostering agency or local authority?
When you start your fostering journey, one of the first things you may consider is whether to foster through an independent foster care agency or through your local authority. Some of the main differences include;
- Age of children – independent fostering agencies generally care for slightly older children and teenagers, whereas younger children (under 5’s) and babies are often placed directly with local authority foster parents.
- Fostering allowances – weekly payments to foster parents are often significantly higher with independent fostering agencies. These increased rates reflect the age of children and recognise the ongoing training and development required to care for children with more complex needs.
- Availability of support – the level of support offered within local authorities can vary across the country. Here at Fosterplus, we have stable, local teams of dedicated social workers who are entirely focused on providing our families with the very best support, day and night. That’s why our foster families stay with us.
- Fostering specialists – while local authorities are responsible for fostering, adoption and child protection, we devote all our energy to providing safe and continuous foster placements and creating enjoyable experiences for all our foster families and young people. A big part of this is bringing our families together to help them feel connected to others - we host lots of family events, including activity days and trips, plus regular foster parent forums.
- Mindful matching - we believe successful fostering experiences start with the quality of matching between children and foster parents. We carefully consider every single referral we receive and only put forward foster parents where we truly believe the dynamic will result in a positive outcome. As a result, we have a lower rate of placements ends than the national average and so children feel secure and settled.
Why choose Fosterplus?
Whether you’re experienced or new to fostering, our fostering service provides continuous support and training, giving you everything you need to make a real difference to children in the care system. This includes regular supervision with your dedicated supervising social worker, support groups, a first-class training programme delivered locally and access to 121 support for the young people in your care.
You’ll also receive generous weekly fostering allowances and benefits, plus have access to our foster parent rewards platform, where you can find discounts for some of your favourite shops, restaurants and family experiences, including Tesco, M&S, Argos and more.
Some of our great benefits...
Ongoing throughout your career, our training covers a wide range of courses, including specialist areas to develop your knowledge and fostering skills. Learn more about our training programme.Find out more
As well as 24/7/365 support from social workers, we connect you to group meetings, online services and a wide range of activities with other local foster parents. You'll join an entire network of support.Find out more
You’ll benefit from an attractive fostering payment for when a child is in your care, together with other benefits and rewards. Find out how much you could receive using our allowance calculator.Find out more
Careful, considered matching is key, and over many years' experience, we've developed an outstanding reputation for quality matching and excellent outcomes for children in care.Find out more
How do local authorities place children with families?
When a child comes into foster care, the local authority becomes responsible for their health, safety and wellbeing, and while local authorities have their own 'pool' of foster parents, sadly they generally don't have enough to cope with the rising number of children needing a foster home. That's where specialist independent fostering agencies, like Fosterplus, come in.
We work with local authorities across England and Scotland, and receive hundreds of referrals every day. Our dedicated referrals team review each referral and identify any foster families who could meet the child's needs. If all parties agree - the foster parents, their Fosterplus social worker and regional manager, and the local authority - then we'll work closely with the local authority to make arrangements. Wherever possible, this will also include initial introductions between the child and family.
What are the different types of fostering?
We offer many different types of fostering so we can continue to meet the ever-changing needs of children and young people in foster care. These include short-term or interim care (up to 2 years), long-term or permanent care (more than 2 years and until the child turns eighteen), emergency, respite and more.
We also provide foster care placements that are considered specialist, including parent and child fostering and caring for children with disabilities or those seeking asylum. Learn about the different types of fostering below.
How do you become a foster parent?
The first step is to have a chat with one of our friendly advisors - either complete our online form or give us a call on 0800 369 8512. We'll speak to you about the role, take a few details and answer any of your questions.
When you're ready to progress, there's a standard application and assessment process that you'll need to go through to become an approved foster parent, including home visits, background checks and references, training and attending a fostering panel. You can find out more about each step below.
How long does it take to become a foster parent?
It takes around 4-6 months to become a foster parent. This can often be shorter if you're already fostering and looking to transfer to a different fostering agency.
Can't find what you're looking for?
One of our team is available to talk to you over the phone to answer any of your fostering queries.
You can get in touch by filling out our online enquiry form with any queries that you may have.
Your local team
Find contact details for your local office team. We’re always happy for you to pop-in and chat.