An independent fostering agency is a voluntary or private organization that places children with foster carers. All independent fostering agencies must register with Ofsted before they can operate ~ Ofsted
Local governments are responsible for the well-being of children who are unable to live with their birth or extended families. These children are known as ‘children looked after’ as they are cared for in families or placements identified by a local authority. Foster placements or foster families are one of the options a local authority will look at when deciding where to place a child that cannot live with their birth family. In the past local authorities were solely accountable for fostering services, however, to help meet the needs of the large number of children living in care independent fostering agencies were allowed to set up separately from local authorities.
Both independent and local authority fostering services recruit, train, support, and supervise foster carers that are approved by them. As a foster carer an individual or couple can only be ‘approved’ (that is assessed as ‘suitable to foster’) by one fostering service.
All fostering agencies, whether independent or run by a local authority, registered, and inspected by Ofsted in England, the Care Inspectorate in Scotland, and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate in Wales.
What do independent fostering agencies do?
Without the aid of fostering agencies, local authorities may struggle to meet the massive demands placed on care services. They are also there to assist foster parents to develop as professionals and assist them in meeting the needs of the children placed with them.
As part of the placement process, independent fostering agencies work closely with local authorities to match children who require homes with suitable foster parents. They also provide ongoing support and training, as well as supervising the relationship between the child and their foster carer.
Independent Fostering Agencies offer a range of additional support. A good example of this support is the 24/7 support, advice, and guidance available to Fitzgerald Fostering’s foster carers on any issues they may be concerned about. In conjunction with this the agency offers a comprehensive training and development package overseen by a qualified therapist and social worker.
Fitzgerald Fostering are committed to ensuring the emotional wellbeing of both the children and the foster carers who look after them. To support this aim we can, and do, offer therapeutic sessions to help foster carers better understand the challenges faced when caring for children with a range of different needs.
When it comes to payments, most independent fostering agencies offer more than the minimum rates set by the government for fostering services. Fitzgerald Fostering offers a very competitive financial package to ensure foster carers a fairly rewarded for the important job they do.
How to choose a fostering agency
Your choice of fostering agency will depend on your individual needs, and those of everyone in your household. You will need to consider the level of support you are looking for, your location, and how an agency will work with you to meet the needs of any children in your care. You should ensure any agency you approach is registered with Ofsted and a good place to start when considering an agency would be their Ofsted page (e.g., Fitzgerald Fostering Ofsted inspection reports). The inspection reports on this page will give you a good feel for how an agency operates and what their strengths are.
When contacting an agency to explore becoming a foster carer for them it is important that you ask them any questions you may have about the agency and what it will be like to be a foster carer with them. You should feel comfortable asking any questions you have; everyone starts the fostering journey at different points and there are no silly questions. At Fitzgerald Fostering we always welcome enquiries about becoming a foster carer and will be happy to answer any questions you may have even if you are not sure that fostering is right for you now.
If you would like more information about how we can help you as an independent fostering agency, please feel free to call one of our team on 01753 550031 or use the contact form.