private or la foster carer decision to make

(8 Posts)
scootbabe66 Sat 26-Jan-13 13:09:59

I have applied to a private fostering organization and also to my la. I hve had both social workers come out and take details and explain the process to me and my husband about fostering.
Under normal circumstances i think i would go with la... but as we were smokers till new year and only been given up a few weeks, la said we cant foster for at least a year after stopping smoking. Private agency said it isnt a problem for them as we are interested in fostering older children and teens.
It is a dilemma for me. The sw from la was very nice and said it was a one off that they were even visiting us ..normally they wouldn't even entertain the application till we had stopped smoking at least 6 months but we had so much parenting experience as we have three boys with autism (my eldest is now 20 and living independently and i have 13 year old twins)..one of my twins is at a ballet school on a scholarship living away from home and the other at home with me and hubby.
I have thought about fostering for such a long time but never had the spare room and then made an enquiry with la about a year ago on phone and was told no cos we smoked. It is only now that we have stopped smoking that i decided to make the enquiry again and discovered that there were private agencies.
Both twins have their own rooms and i have a lovely big double room spare.
The private agency sw said they are busy in our area with placements but obviously couldn't guarantee anything and said that process of assessment would take about 4 months . LA would start process too but wouldnt take any of it to panel till we had bee stopped smoking for at least 6 months and aim to make our first placement in about a years time. It seems a long time to wait.
We are currently on Income Support and I am considering going back to my old job in civil service full time. I wanted to make enquiry about fostering before i made a long term decision about future work.
Sorry to have rambled on .. any advice would be helpful.

Fosterangel Sat 26-Jan-13 14:30:21

From mooching around this forum and talking to other foster carers in my area I have pretty much worked out that if you are an LA foster carer:

You will probably never be without a placement as there is such a shortage of foster carers nationally. Social workers (yours and the foster child's) often go off long term sick or change at short notice so you will probably struggle a bit to find any help from social services if the f/child displays any behaviour you feel is unhelpful or dangerous to them (or you/your family). You will probably speak to a different SW each time you phone the LA who probably does not know the child. You will get less money with the LA. You will have to buy all your own equipment and pay for really everything to do with the child as cash in tight and most LA's simply do not have any. There will be little or no help for any mental health issues the child may present with (unless they are kicking off at school). If behaviours are displayed at home and do not involve drugs/sex/alcohol/stealing/running away, you will be expected to deal with them yourself (i.e. bedwetting, anger issues, trashing bedrooms, soiling underwear, watching porn on laptops, selling things you have bought them, internet bullying via Facebook).

If you foster for an independent (or charity) fostering agency:

You will receive around double the amount of money to foster the same age group. You will have a lot more support from your agency, weekly or even daily contact to see how you are getting on, and your SW will be more accessible to you as their case-loads appear to be lighter than the LA's and they tend to stay in their jobs with the IFA's with more stability (and probably more job satisfaction!). There are usually staff employed by IFA's that you can call on to work with the f/children on social skills etc. Mental health services for the foster child are more readily considered and offered through IFA's. You may struggle on occasions to have a placement and may wait many weeks between placements so be prepared to call on your savings in times of no placement. It is thought that the more difficult to place children are placed via independent fostering agencies. Be prepared for a fostered child to be removed and placed back within the LA (to save the LA cost of the IFA) once an LA carer becomes available.

We chose to foster via our LA as we wanted to care for children in our area now that our own have flown the nest.

This was a quick overview of the main facts as I see them and it all sounds a bit harsh so apologies for this. Fostering really is about making a difference to the life of a child who would otherwise not have so many life chances. The foster children are what make it worth while - it is just the difference between the two systems (LA and IFA/charity) that causes the frustrations.

Fosterangel Sat 26-Jan-13 14:35:50

Forgot to say that if you need to be smoking free for 6 months you have plenty of time to qualify as an LA foster carer. It took us just over a year to qualify as there is a lengthy Skills To Foster course to do (around 18 weeks or so). Also lots of home visits from the social worker assigned to get you through panel who will do your form F1 to get you through panel.

Good luck anyway - hope you make the right decision for you.

scootbabe66 Sat 26-Jan-13 18:01:00

thanks for your reply....it is a minefield out there and i dont want to make a mistake choosing. If i make the wrong decision now it will take so long to swap over and be reassessed all over again!
I have spoke to sw from la and also from ifa and the main difference is the la sw is more foster child focused..ifa sw was more supportive of foster carers . We did discuss what happens if an allegation is made and i preferred the ifa answer. They talked about support to be put in place for the foster carer if an allegation was made. La spoke about investigating me and taking any necessary steps against me if anything proven..never mentioned support or advice for me in the process...
It would be nice to have regular placement though without big gaps.
I am going to approach Barnados next week and arrange an appointment with them and then make my mind up once i have looked at the charity option too.
I know no one likes to talk about financial matters regarding fostering but it is an important factor unless you are well off and don't worry about money at all.
IFA told me exactly how much they pay and went into a lot of detail but LA did not do this and their website has no details of remuneration or expenses paid for foster carers. Barnados website also doesn't mention amounts.
My husband is a full time carer for our son with autism who lives at home and we are on income support with rent and ct paid. I need to know how much we can expect to receive as foster carers so that i can try to work out if the wtc option will work out for us as a family. I also need to know if we can claim any help with rent or ct and need figures to make those inquiries.
Also i have been reading these forums and people have mentioned having to hand money back to foster children for their expenses and having to put savings away for them. If you get around £200 a week in total for a teenager. How much of that money can you actually keep for yourself to pay your own expenses and also who pays for any damage that the foster children cause to property . We have contents insurance but if i have to claim on that for anything my premiums will go up. The more i find out about fostering ..the more questions i have..
thanks in advance

plainjayne123 Sat 26-Jan-13 20:17:16

http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/allowances-and-additional-fees-foster-carers
This is what Oxfordshire LA pay, you can find similar info on other LA websites I think.
So for children that require a high level of support the LA pays similar to what an IFA pays, but you are more likely to have a placement. LA should pay equipment, business mileage, special allowances etc, and you don't have as much paper work to do.

Fosterangel Sun 27-Jan-13 10:10:48

I am afraid that allegations against foster carers often come with the territory when you foster a child who has been abused and neglected and can often find "family life" too stressful. A foster child can see making an allegations as a way to get home to birth family or to get away from too much love shown which may feel alien to them at that time.

The LA ALWAYS put the needs of a vulnerable foster child first and will swiftly act to investigate you and your family over any allegations with vigour, removing the child if necessary, and, of course, your payments will stop from that point. I can only imagine how stressful this could be.

Fostering really is not for the faint hearted - only the brave (or stupid!) need apply! Would you really want it any other way when we hear about cases like Victoria Clumbie or Baby P?

plainjayne123 Sun 27-Jan-13 14:42:58

If a child makes allegations against parents or foster carers(LA or IFA) then of course they are removed from that home for their protection. Payments are stopped for IFA as well I would think. Fostering Network are apparently brilliant for supporting all foster carers who have had allegations made against them.
Children in care need good foster carers. If people didn't become foster carers because there might be difficulties to face then where would we be?

kiddiwinkles Thu 14-Feb-13 13:48:45

With an IFA you will get more complex children and a wait between placements normally, but it all depends what your expectations are.

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