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foster with local authority or private agency????

(19 Posts)
lana28 Tue 29-Mar-11 14:50:28

Hi all!

i'm really interested in fostering babies -but very new to all this and not too sure where to start!

i know that i would be giving up my current job as a midwife to foster, and am obviously aware of the financial implication of that- my DP is working full time.

why would someone chose to register with the LA when the private agencies pay so much more money? am i right in saying that you cannot register with both at the same time?

are babies considered easier to place and therefore the foster parents with the LA would place them first? don't want to register with a private agency and then have no placement for months on end!

don't mean for it to sound like i'm only interested in doing this for the money! i have really really wanted to do this for a long time - but i'm only 28 so realistically the mortgage and bills still need to be paid!!!! am i too young to be considering this? i have such as strong desire to help and i feel like this is what i was meant to do!

any advice would be greatly received

OP’s posts: |
maypole1 Tue 29-Mar-11 16:04:48

i work for an la and even though its less money i always have placements

La usually try to place a child with in their LA before going to a IFA usually IFA have teens, large sibling groups and disabled children their are not many IFA that have small babies unless part of a sibling group also most La now are very aware of budget cuts so are only useing IFA if they have no other choice.

you are not to young to foster i started when i was 24 i was also a single carer when i started, even if you do babies as you are in a two parent family you could still work at weekends say, and hubby can take over.

i would also say were you live depends on how much suppot you will get my LA are really good so i would take a look at the ofsted report and find out all you can then decide

but their are plenty of ladies who work for IFA and get lots of work

bottersnike Tue 29-Mar-11 19:48:05

We looked into this as well when we started looking into fostering. Like you, we are also most interested in babies and toddlers (our boys are still young) and were advised that private agencies are unlikely to have many baby placements unless they are part of a sibling group.
Good idea from maypole to read your LA's OFSTED report - mind you, ours was not very good, but so many of them are under such pressure that I would be amazed if any managed to get a glowing OSTED report at the moment!
Good luck, and let us know how you get on - I've found this board invaluable, and am sure I will continue to do so as our fostering journey progresses!

Choufleur Tue 29-Mar-11 19:50:21

LA will always (well 99% of the time) try to place with their foster cares 1st as they have to pay a really high fee to an agency for the placement. Therefore it's often the more difficult to place children that go through agencies and the babies/young "easier" children who go to their own carers.

NanaNina Tue 29-Mar-11 19:55:49

Agree with Maypole but when you say babies - what age would you go up to. If you foster for an IFA as Maypole says you will be paid more but unlikely to have many placements of children under 2. I am not a foster carer but a retired soc workr and tm mgr in a fostering & adoption team. The thing is about fostering (especially for babies) you cannot be guaranteed a placement 52 weeks of the year. If you are offering to foster sibling groups, middle years aged children or children with disabilities you would probably be kept in work for a significant part of the year.

Also as Maypole says, all LAs are different. I worked in a shire county and the LA foster carers "fought" over babies (not literally!) I would go and talk to your LA and see what their response is - they may not be that interested in someone only wanting babies, but may try to "push you up" to under 3's or even under 5's. You could also talk to IFAs who will probably be keen to take you on because they are a business and hope to be able to "sell you" to the LAs when needed. Maypole is right when she says that LAs will only place with IFAs as a last resort as they charge the LAs far far more than they pay their own foster carers. If you do go to talk to an IFA, ask them how many babies they have placed in the last 2 years. I'd be surprised if they had placed that many.

Have you thought of childminding for the age group that you want.

scarlet5tyger Tue 29-Mar-11 21:36:05

I'm a foster carer for a LA and was pushed into going for 0-5 as they were concerned they might not have enough placements for me if I stuck purely to babies.

So far I've had a baby in place all the time though. I do take in drug addicted babies though which are difficult to place even with foster carers who take in young children as they're such hard work.

I know carers for IFA who've gone without placements for over 12 months now who are approved for a similar age range to me.

maypole1 Tue 29-Mar-11 23:01:24

Yes agree with everyone I do 0-6

lana28 Wed 30-Mar-11 12:09:24

thanks everyone for all your advice! i agree with bottersnike- this board is amazing and such a fantastic resource to have!

ideally we would foster newborns up to 18 months but will really have to think how much older we would go up to after what scarlet5tyger and maypole1 have said! being a midwife, newborns and ill babies would be my area! but we do live in a shire county so will have to talk to the LA and see if they even want us?

from what you all have said it seems like the LA would be the best option for us. have contacted them and waiting for a call back to get some more info on retention fee's? and allowance and fee's paid to see if any of this is an option!! i would love to be able to keep up some part time hours at work but think my DP would freak out if i left him with a drug addicted baby while i went to work! think some intensive baby lessons would be required first!!!!!!

thanks again & will keep you all updated

OP’s posts: |
lana28 Wed 30-Mar-11 12:53:10


just got a call back from the LA- said that they more than likely wouldn't consider us unless we agreed to take 0-8 yrs old! she said that they would have to get special permission from their manager? after the cost of training us it wouldn't be worth it for them if we only took such a limited age group!!!

i can see their point but there is a big difference between taking a newborn in and taking an 8yr old!!! one needs a nursery with a cot and changer the other needs a more grown up room with a bed a desk etc... and there is school runs and clubs and activities? they said they would send me out a pack anyway but don't like feeling pressured to sign up for more than i feel capable of doing!!!!

feel very disappointed sad

OP’s posts: |
scarlet5tyger Wed 30-Mar-11 13:27:47

0-8 seems a strange age, like you say there's a big difference. I went 0-5 as you can still (at a push!) get a 5 year old in the bedroom I have for babies.

Lots of LA are absolutely desperate for carers as the moment so I can't see how it wouldn't be worth it for them even if they didn't have placements for you all the time - most don't pay a retainer which, whilst bad for you, would mean they weren't losing much by training you - they run the training sessions anyway, what difference does one more person on a course make???

Once approved though you are always free to refuse any placement offered so could theoretically go forward to be approved 0-8 and then wait until a placement you felt comfortable with came along.

parsnipcake Wed 30-Mar-11 14:46:59

Hi, I used to be a Specialist HV (PND) and now foster. I specialise in preemies but I take all ages of children. I think in reality you will not be able to get a reliable income through an indepenedent agency, as in the rare occasion a baby is placed with a IFA they bring it back as soon as there is a vacancy. With current funding issues, most LAs are inter LA placing rather than using IFAs for anything except very specialist teen/YOS placements.

The one thing I think is very important for you to think about, coming from a similar background, is that as a foster carer you are treated as a carer, not as a professional generally, and when you come from a background of being an equal in meetings and decision making, it can be very hard to be treated the way we are. When I started I cringed at some of the things I was told to do-knowing it was poor practice (such as giving juice in a bottle), but as the parents requested it I had to follow their wishes unless I had professional permission not to do so. You cannot really use any of your professional knowledge in caring for a child, you have to use the child's named midwife/hv to change things or treat things, and it can be quite demoralising, especially as professionals are also trying to have a positive relationship with parents and so unless things are life threatening will generaLLY ACCEPT THEM, OR SIMPLY USE IT AS 'EVIDENCE' RATHER THAN CHALLENGING THE PARENTS. Also, many parents can be very suspicious of you if they know you have a professional background -they see you as similar to a SW and it can make things difficult. I find that parents have a much better relationship with me if I never mention any of my background except my experience in caring for preemies.

Also, caring for a fosterbaby is very different to caring as a professional, babies often have daily contact which can take up the bulk of your time in transporting, and can make routines very difficult. You also don't get a break -it's 24/7 with no sick days which can be tough with tinies, as their birth parents will expect them to be immaculate whatever is going on for you.

NanaNina Wed 30-Mar-11 17:57:41

Lana - you won't be expected to "sign up" for anything at this stage. I suspected that the LA would not be interested in training/prep groups fior newborns as there is almost always sufficient carers to take babies.

I think you need to think very carefully about this - I think 0-8 is a bit steep but would you consider 0- 5. Do they know you are a midwife and could be very useful for drug addicted babies. Though they do not come along that often in my experience.

The other thing is that you can apply to any LA within a reasonable distance of your own home. You cannot however be approved by 2 different agencies.

Sorry you are disappointed but the reality is that there is a desparate need for carers of middle years children, sibling groups and children with disabilities. As for finance I don't think this is something you can work out, because even though a fostering allowance is paid for the day to day expenses and a "fee" or "reward element" to the carer, and you can get those quite easily, you will not know how many weeks of the year you are going to have a placement. Some LAs pay a retainer for 8 weeks after a placement has ended but this does vary between LAs.

maypole1 Wed 30-Mar-11 22:04:06

Yes I agree you can go to different la local to you don't be put off when I started I was 24 and went to a different la to were I lived they basically laughed me out the office I then went to my local la and was snapped up.

If you could do pre school children then it may calm them down a bit as if you can only do 0-18 months they will have to then find another home for the child in a very short space of time

lana28 Thu 31-Mar-11 15:29:15

thank you everyone for all your advice!

did as u suggested maypole1- as i live on the border of two areas i contacted another LA who were very positive about the posibility of signing up a midwife with experience of premies and addicted babies!! the allowance and fee also difffered from £225 in 1 LA & £398 in the other LA for babies (thats without specciality fee?!!!) amazing how two LA not far from each other can be so different!

thanks for your warning parsnipcake- i am used to being listened to in my profession and having an input respected which sounds like it may not always be the case in fostering! that would be difficult at the beginning!

well sat down with my DP last night and had a really good chat! as much i really really want to do this now i don't think its the right thing for my DP! i think the reality of a drug addicted baby would terrify him! think he needs more time -maybe even to have and raise our own children first to see the joy after all the crying and sleepless nights

it is still hopefully the plan to pursue fostering ..... but a little further down the road for us

i think you guys are amazing and so dedicated to fostering- hoping to follow in your footsteps soon xxx

OP’s posts: |
scarlet5tyger Thu 31-Mar-11 15:43:52

Hi Lana, glad to hear you're not giving up completely although you're probably right to enjoy your own children first - I'm in the process of moving my current placement on at the moment and it's fantastic to see how much progress he's made in such a short time, but I can't imagine what it would have been like to have other children around when I think back to how difficult he was when he was first placed.

My biggest gripe about fostering has always been the difference in fees from one LA to another. Mine is one of the worst paid in the country. I don't understand why there isn't a set rate (alright, I do know it's all to do with problems attracting carers).

Good luck with your future plans.

Dan119iel Sun 21-Jan-18 17:06:44

Hi All, im a foster carer and thinking of changing from the LA to a IFA? Has anyone else done this and been happy with their decision? Im torn at the moment as fed up with a few things that seem to happen with the LA. Thanks for your help x

Richard221 Tue 23-Jan-18 12:01:48

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Richard221 Tue 23-Jan-18 12:03:47

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Flower20166 Fri 02-Feb-18 09:42:13

Lol nice plug richard

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