Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on fostering.
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Tell me about fostering(14 Posts)
We have enquired this week about fostering after a few years of thinking it through. There's a drive at the minute in our area to encourage more people to consider fostering.
Will wait and see what happens. I feel very sure after such a long time of thinking it through (waiting on the youngest going to nursery). It all depends how the visit goes. Will keep checking back on these boards. It's an invaluable source of information.
I agree with Nana, I choose to foster for a IFA but I researched and the one I choose is a charitable organisation, they also do alot for disabled children within their residential homes. I find I get alot of training and support. x
Thankyou all very much, I suspected that might be the case re LA vs IFA.
Hello there - think Cazmaggs post is really helpful. I am a retired team mgr of a Fostering & Adoption team for a LA - 30 years service in all.
You mention whether you can choose the age of the child, and mention respite and long term. All of these issues will be discussed with you if you apply to foster. Briefly, it is possible to be assessed for respite only, short term, or long term fostering. I think it is best to start off with short term, although that can mean anything from 2 days to 2 years especially if the courts are involved in the case. The thing is with short term you do get to know what it is like having a foster child living with you (as you can't know this until it happens) and of course all children are different. I worry about people going straight into long-term or permanent fostering, as it doesn't give any opportunity to "test the water" so to speak. Re age - this needs to be fully discussed and if you have children of your own this will be a consideration, because it isn't good practice to take a child older than your eldest child, as your child loses his position as "eldest child" - also there needs really to be a 2 year gap between the fostered child and your own children, but many LAs are not bothering about this so much these days as they are often in urgent need of foster homes. Also it depends on you and your family and any work that either of you do and what the LAs need is - usually they are "well stocked" with carers who take babies and under 5s and the need is usually for older children, and 2 together if siblings, and children with disabilities. However you need to discuss all this fully with the sws - it isn't so simple as just thinking of an age to be honest.
The issue about LA or IFAs (Independent Fostering Agencies)
OK here's the difference. If you foster for the LA you will be taking children who come into care (now called the Looked After system) so children in care will be referred to as Looked Aftered Children. You will have support from a fostering social work and to a lesser extent the child's social worker. You will be paid an allowance for the child and a fostering "fee" for the work of caring for a child.
IFAs started springing up in the 90s and now they are "ten a penny" and they may call themselves "independent" but that means private. They are run by directors and it is like a business. The IFAs don't have children, but they recruit foster carers, so they have to "sell" the families that they recruit to the LA and they charge a significant amount of money, though they pay their carers more in allowances. LAs are so cash strapped that "buying" iFA carers makes huge holes in their already shrinking budgets. IFA directors make huge profits and there are several in the area in which I worked (a Shire county) I know of directors of IFAs who ride around in Porsches (big flashy cars) and one I know bought a string of race horses and they don't come cheap!
LAs will also try to "bring children back" from IFA placements (because of the cost ) as soon as a LA foster carer has a vacancy. Not good for children of course, but I'm afraid finance is a huge issue. In my experience SSDs have always been under resourced in terms of finance, but since this coalition came in, budgets have been slashed, causing all sorts of problems for all public services.
SO it's a matter of choice. Yes the IFA will get you on to a preparation course and carry out your assessment quicker than a LA because they have enough staff to do this (they pay their sws more than LA does) but here's the rub - this is all charged to the LA in the enormous amounts they charge to "sell" one of their families.
SO do you want to line the pockets of these entrepreneurs - if so go for an IFA. Oh and don't be fooled by the "not for profit" IFAs, all this means is they don't pay shareholders, but it doesn't stop them taking large salaries from the profits they make from LAs. They won't tell you this of course and many carers have been amazed to find that the IFAs just cost everything to the LA.
If you don't want to act in this way, then go for the LA
How did you guess this is an issue about which I feel very strongly!
I may well get IFA carers coming on to defend their position and can I say that in respect I don't blame carers going to IFAs, as we all have to be responsible for our own finance and IFAs do pay more than LAs.
Websites which may be useful are "British Agencies for Fostering & Adoption" (BAAF) and Fostering Networks (the national organisation of Fostering)
cazzmags can I ask, how did you decide whether to foster with your LA or with an agency?
Hi We've been fostering a couple of years with our local LA and they are the best place to start. We went to an information evening where a foster carer as well as social workers spoke to us and then having decided to proceed we were allocated a social worker to complete our assessment.
Be aware that the process is extremely intrusive, and rightly so. Social services will want to know about you, your family, your extended family the list goes on. They will look at your current and past relationships, want to discuss your childhood experiences and look into your finances. When this information is completed you will go to panel, hopefully for approval, having already discussed with your assessing social worker the age range and type of care you wish to be approved for.
Fostering is the hardest thing we've ever done, the red tape is frustrating and the paperwork is endless but it is the most remarkable thing to be able to change a childs' life for the better and the emotional rewards as a foster carer are huge. You will need a good support network around you and make use of it.
Good luck, we are really in need of good carers who will love, care and advocate for these children. Let us all know how you get on.
Watching with interest, as I'd love to foster for respite next year. We contacted local council who came to visit, talked to us, gave us a video to watch (even though we knew we weren't ready yet!)
We're moving this into the fostering section.
*Contacting not contracting.
Best place to start is contracting your local authority, my parents were foster carers, my Mum still is but specialises in children/adults with SN and disabilities. You can specify ages/sex of child as far as I know. I lived the endless steam of new children (parents did a lot of respite too). I would love to foster but only when my children are older, they're my priority at the moment.
Thanks will report it. couldn't find the right section.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
DH and I are thinking about fostering. How do you go about It? can you specify the age of the child? Can you say longterm over respite?
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