Difference between Local Authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies

Difference between Local Authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies

Local Authorities are ultimately responsible for the wellbeing of all children in public care. They need to find the best way of looking after these children to make sure that they receive the best possible standard of care. There are high number of children across United Kingdom who are in need of care provided by the local authorities. The local authorities need to find a suitable foster carer for each of these children where the child will be safe and loved.

Due to high demand of care and less availability of the carers, the local authorities are unable to provide families to all of these children and under great pressure. Independent fostering agencies are developed to overcome the shortfall of foster carers faced by the local authorities. IFAs have got their own social workers, foster carers and admin staff to manage children placement and provide full support to the foster carers.

Factors to consider before choosing between Independent Fostering Agency or Local Authority

Also recommended in an article by Fostering Network, it is advised that you should contact your Local authority and few other fostering agencies and consider the following factors which will best suit you needs. These factors can help you decide whether a local authority or fostering agency is a better option for you.

Assessment: This is the first step in a foster carers’ fostering journey. Depending on the applicants’ individual circumstances it can take up to 6 months. We at Sunbeam aim to complete your assessment in 3 months’ time or less where possible. We will allocate a local assessment worker who will work closely with you and will be available to meet you when it’s convenient to you.

Training: Due to lack of staff and less number of carers by LAs the number of training provided are less frequent and less flexible. On the other hand, the fostering agencies provide training to the foster families with more flexibility of frequency, time and location.

Placement: Since fostering requires full commitment and you may have to give up your full-time job for this purpose, it is essential to know the length of placement, type of placement and allowances provided by each of the fostering agencies and LAs. Some fostering agencies specialise and take children with challenging behaviour, children with special needs or long term placements. This can be considered based on you and your family suitability.

Most of the fostering agencies are registered with more than one local authority. This increases the chances of getting a placement that is more suitable to you and your family. Having a placement from a different local authority could also mean more travelling for school journeys, trainings or meetings.

Fostering allowances: The fostering allowances paid by the independent fostering agencies are usually higher than the allowances paid by the local authorities. With different types of placements offered by fostering agencies such as enhanced, challenging behaviour or special needs, you can expect the fostering agency to pay a higher compared to the mainstream placements.

If you are a prospective foster carer looking to foster or an experienced foster carer, then Sunbeam Fostering Agency is the right place for you. Here at Sunbeam we make sure you are rewarded with competitive allowance and provided with all the trainings you require.  A dedicated supervising social worker will always be available to support and guide you through your fostering journey. With our dedicated team of social workers and 24hours support we make sure that you are never left alone in providing the children with the best standard of care.

Article written by Massoud Malang

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