Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on fostering.

LA v's Private

(17 Posts)
HelloGoodbye86 Thu 05-Mar-15 23:15:36

Sorry to post again this evening but I was also wondering what the difference between Local Authority fostering and private fostering was and what people would recommend. I think we will probably contact both in the first instance and then decide which one to progress with, but just curious really to see others thoughts on this.

Thanks x

wonderpants Fri 06-Mar-15 06:38:55

You will get many replies (or look through old posts, it has definitely been done before and is a bit of a political hot topic in fostering).

In a nutshell, la's have the responsibility for their looked after children. They will try and place them with their own foster carers. If they can't (no suitable available), they will go to ifa's to try and place. Ifa's cost them a lot more than placing with their own, so it is mostly a last resort.

Ifa's may give you more support and better pay, but you may have more time in between placements. You will also be more likely to get hard to place children. La's generally have plenty of carers for little ones and babies.

Ifa's do not have their own responsibility for children, the children are always looked after by the local authority.

wonderpants Fri 06-Mar-15 06:40:52

Sorry, I had taken private to mean 'independent fostering agency'.

Private fostering is technically when someone looks after somebody else's child for more than 28 days as an agreement between themselves, not because the child is in the care of the local authority.

HelloGoodbye86 Fri 06-Mar-15 07:21:28

Thanks for the reply, and sorry I did mean IFA - it's me getting my terminology wrong smile I'll have a proper look through the forum posts tonight on my laptop (currently viewing through my phone) thank you again x

Darnley Fri 06-Mar-15 14:08:22

Just as a bit of a side issue, the point about IFAs being expensive is not the case. It costs the LA the same to place with their own carers, the difference is that the money leaves the LA system.

wonderpants Fri 06-Mar-15 14:36:28

Okay, my LA would say different, but there will always be that debate!
I suppose my point is that my LA will always try and place with their own foster carers before going to an IFA.

Darnley Fri 06-Mar-15 20:38:40

Of course they will and that's always been the case. The IFAs are well aware that the referrals they get will be for the harder to place children ad will choose carers accordingly.

This debate will always rage on, and having worked both sides of the fence, at different levels, I feel fairly qualified to comment.

I no longer work in the public sector.

JacobMalloy02 Thu 02-Apr-15 14:14:58

As already said, this is a well debated discussion. My view would be to look at both. There are some very good LA's and some not so good. This also applies to IFA's, so please do your research. The most recent Ofsted report for the LA or OFA I often a good place to start.

Do not be afraid to pick up the phone. See what the response is and invite them to come and speak to you about their service. Essentially, you will go through the same assessment process with both to get to panel before approval.

gnome493 Fri 10-Apr-15 22:37:29

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

millmz Sat 25-Apr-15 17:44:11

Defiantly Local Authority, they get the children first and you will find that they find it difficult to place more challenging children so these will go to IFA. The money is lower with LA's to start with but then you take qualifications which are not hard to do to take you to level 1 then another which takes you to level 2. This will mean a massive pay rise which is more than IFA. All the personal allowances are separate from your wage not like some IFA where it is paid all in one. All the training you want to do is offered free. I have superb support from my FSW. Hope this helps.

JacobMalloy02 Mon 27-Apr-15 16:33:43

millmz - this may be so for your LA, but they are all different - my advice stands that people should do the research in their local area and make a decision from there. I run an IFA and have been a RM of a Local Authority, so I speak from experience. I have rarely seen LA's paying more than IFA's. Training is also free with IFA's, in fact it is a Regulatory requirement to provide.

charlottejay Wed 27-May-15 19:58:31

One other important thing to note is that LA SSW's manage a case load of upto 40 families and IFA's SSW's carry a caseload of 12 foster families.

Good IFA's will always work hard to get the matching right. In terms of challenging children IFA's will always get the kids the LA Foster Carers can't manage. This is primarily due to a lack pf training and support. IFA's will provide you the training and support and also give you more pay in recognition of your knowledge and experience.

I agree with the previous thread that LA Foster Care is just as costly as IFA and sometimes much more.

Best
CJ x

Yuleloglatte Thu 28-May-15 08:10:12

I'm currently fostering siblings from a massive group, there are 5 carers, 3 are LA and 2 are agency. It's been very interesting as with it being one family, the needs and child's SW are a constant, it's the agency support that is different.
Both the agency carers are quite new and inexperienced. They get more scheduled meetings with their SSW but I don't think she has been that useful. One of the agency placements is breaking down, while the LA carers are very mutually supportive and are all doing well

At the LAC review, I was shocked at how the agency SSW seemed more bothered about contracts and payments, while the LA carers and SSW were focused on the children's needs.

The agency carers were able to access behaviour support specialists. The LA carers had all attended a 26 week nurturing attachment course.

The agency carers get paid x2 what the LA carers get but waited 6months for placements and they have to buy more equipment, get less mileage etc

The IFa carers have the middle children in both age and issues

I'm an LA carer. Nothing I have seen makes me think the agency is better ( except money) in this case. I really don't think the support has been better for the agency carers and the staff do seem more business focused. The agency carers don't seem to have a good support network - maybe because of distances? Their training doesn't seem very in depth.

I know it's only a snapshot but it's been interesting. Despite the SSW launching into a spiel every time I have seen her, I definitely wouldn't move to an agency based on what I have seen.

joinedtocomment Tue 02-Jun-15 13:22:01

We've only had our first placement for a week, so maybe I'm not the best to comment, but this is our experience.

We joined an IFA as everything we read suggested the support was better. As my husband works and I would be the main carer this was imperative for me. This was not an easy decision though as our preference was for younger children, and we knew with an IFA we were a) unlikely to have young children and b) would probably have more troubled children referred to us.

Throughout the application process we had constant contact and any queries were replied to at the latest by the end of the day, usually by return. We were passed in March, and since then have had half a dozen referrals, all within the parameters we set, but unfortunately which for one reason or another did not work out.

The lovely girl we have now (I'll call her A) we met a week or so before she moved in. She is slightly older than we had said, but she is most definitely not the 'troubled' child we thought we would have going through an IFA.

A arrived last Wednesday. I had told the LA that we could not take her until the Thursday evening as I had a prior commitment and would not be able to give her the attention she should have on her first night. We were told by the LA that they had to move her then as her SW was leaving that day and wanted to move her. This is despite me stating that I would not be able to give her the attention she deserved, but it was decided by them that her old SW needed to move her (fair enough), so my husband took the time off work and we took her on the Wednesday.

On the Wednesday I had a call from her old carer. I had not given the carer my number. The LA SW had told me not to give her my details for reasons I won't go in to. She was phoning to tell me that the LA SW would not be attending the evening of the move as she had had an emergency come up. Instead of phoning me herself, the LA SW had phoned the old carer and given her my details - something she specifically told me not to do - without my permission. She did not phone me herself to let me know she wasn't coming, and also didn't phone our SW, so she had a wasted trip, and none of the paperwork could be completed. Bear in mind this is our first placement and A's moving in day, and yet we did not have any contact whatsoever with anyone from the LA. No-one turned up in place of the LA SW to support A, it was just the old carer and our SW.

The first contact I have had with the LA since was yesterday to arrange a meeting with the new SW. No-one has contacted us to see if A has settled ok. I don't know if they should or not, but I do know that our SW has contacted us in this time to ask that. To date we do not have a single piece of paperwork, so no medical consent (although we have an email saying we can get emergency treatment if needed, as the LA could not send out the actual consent for some reason), no delegated authority, nada.

So far I am massively underwhelmed with the LA. The SW was a lovely girl, really sweet, and seems to genuinely care for A, but I'm very unhappy with details being given out and the complete lack of information once we'd said we'd love to have A. On the flip side, despite our SW being on leave last week, she still answered texts I sent with queries, including one on a Saturday (having told me that although she was off, her phone would always be on).

Maybe in a few months when we're not so green my thoughts will be different, but so far I am absolutely certain we made the right decision to go for the support of an IFA rather than the possibility of younger/easier children but with the lack of support that has been evidenced so far.

wonderpants Tue 02-Jun-15 15:24:32

In fairness, the LA social work teams are often different to the fostering team. My LA SSW is brilliant, however the children's SW's are not always great at understanding what foster carers do or communicating with them.

happylou22 Wed 03-Jun-15 21:43:05

We have been fostering since 2011. We are with an IFA (Charity IFA) and receive around £2,000 a month. We are level 1 foster carers (I think - we are the highest we can be without becoming enhanced or therapeutic)

We get monthly supervisions, are with an outstanding service, our ssw comes to as many meetings and reviews as possible - which are numerous at times.

We both work, me part time and my other half full time. We have regular training and support events and can tap in to specialist courses.

The longest wait that we have had is 7 months which was hellish but we were looking at several children - we are particularly interested in fostering children who have SEN or who have experienced placement breakdowns (we like a challenging life don't we!?)

We have our annoyances, of course, but having seen some of the 'support' that the carers of our FC's sibling recieved (I used the first name of the birth mother in a meeting and she asked who that was..... that was just for starters!) we wouldn't ever consider moving over to the LA. My SSw works hard to understand our FC and our needs too.

scarlet5tyger Wed 03-Jun-15 22:51:08

Joinedtocomment children's SW are all from the LA, whether you're with an IFA or LA.

You should have had a placement meeting within 24 hours of the child being placed (although it can often take a few days to set up in reality) which is where you should be provided with all paperwork needed, if not already. If the move was pre planned then the placement meeting should happen BEFORE the child moves in.

Sorry to be blunt but get used to your details being given out without your permission! I've had to have police protection in the past because of an "oversight"... I'm intrigued that you were told not to give the previous carer your number though. Surely it's in the interests of the child for her new carer to communicate with her previous carer?

Not all children who go to agencies are "troubled" (by which I mean particularly challenging - I think the very fact of being a LAC entitles them all to have troubles), they can be more difficult to place simply because they are older.

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