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Choosing the right path for your fostering journey: independent fostering agency or local authority?

The journey to becoming a foster carer involves careful consideration, preparation, and a commitment to providing a stable, loving environment for children who are unable to live with their birth families.

Each step in the process is designed to ensure that prospective foster carers are ready for the responsibilities and challenges they will face, and that they can provide the best possible family-based care for the children they welcome into their homes.

When considering the rewarding journey of becoming a foster carer, one of the first significant choices you will encounter is deciding who you choose to foster through – your local authority or an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA), like us. This decision is more than a mere formality; it shapes your fostering experience.

Our goal at Fitzgerald Fostering is always to guide and support foster carers in delivering the best outcome for the child. That means providing you with the insights needed to make an informed choice that best aligns with your values and aspirations as a foster carer.

The value of choice in fostering
Local authority fostering represents the cornerstone of governmental support for vulnerable children and, regardless of whether a foster carer decides to foster through an IFA or a local authority, the local authority still has ultimate responsibility for the decisions relating to the welfare of every foster child.

It’s therefore understandable then that many people looking to foster assume the only route is through their local authority. However, IFAs like Fitzgerald Fostering accounted for 43% of mainstream filled places in 2023 (up by 5% since 2019).

Fostering through an IFA works in a slightly different way than through a local authority but together we are all focused on the same outcome – providing the best possible care to foster children. Potential foster carers must choose what feels right for them.

Independent Foster Agencies – what’s different?
As an IFA, Fitzgerald Fostering is able to tailor its approaches to each fostering placement so that we can support the unique needs of each fostering household and the foster child in their care. We do this through:

Tailored & specialised support: From specialised training programmes to personalised therapeutic interventions, we empower foster carers with the tools and knowledge necessary to nurture the development of every child or young person in their care. And because we operate independently, we have the freedom to be flexible and consider each carer’s individual circumstances.

Rapid response and guidance: In the dynamic landscape of fostering, responsiveness is paramount. IFAs can adapt quickly and respond swiftly to the evolving needs of foster children and foster carers. Whether navigating challenging behaviours or accessing emergency support services, foster carers registered with Fitzgerald Fostering can rest assured that compassionate, expert help is always just a phone call away and this support is available 24/7

A holistic approach: Beyond mere guardianship, IFAs embrace a holistic approach to fostering whilst working in partnership with the local authority. From educational to emotional wellbeing support, we collaborate with a network of professionals and community stakeholders to ensure that every aspect of a foster child’s life is nurtured and enriched.

Recruitment and retention: As specialists in foster care, we bring our expertise to the recruitment and selection of foster carers, often resulting in a faster recruitment and placement process than through a local authority. We source, support and train foster carers to ensure they give the best possible care to foster children. Our high levels of support, along with the peer network that we create for our foster carers, are amongst the reasons why we have a far higher than average retention rate of foster carers. We make sure our foster carers feel valued and supported every step of the way.

Forging ahead: Collaboration is key
Our founders, Lesley Fitzgerald and James Townend have come from careers in local authority social care and therefore understand the intricacies and challenges faced within the sector. Debating whether public or private is better detracts from what really matters – better outcomes for children in foster care. We believe local authorities and IFAs can work effectively together to achieve this.

Local authorities cannot be experts in everything – they are responsible for hundreds of different public services – but as specialists in the recruitment, training and support of foster carers, we add value to local authorities and provide additional expert support.

Collaboration is also paramount to our relationship with our carers – it is only by giving them the right support and guidance that they can deliver the appropriate care that meets the needs of each individual foster child. There’s good reason many of the children who have been supported by our foster carers until the age of 18 remain in contact with them and us beyond their time in care.

At Fitzgerald Fostering, we are with you every step of the way.

To find out more about fostering with Fitzgerald Fostering, please call us on 01753 550031

 

AuthorFitzgerald Fostering

DateJune 7, 2024

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