Why foster for your local council
When you decide to become a foster carer, one of the first decisions you’ll make is who you want to foster for. You will have a number of options and it can be quite confusing trying to work out the best way forward for you and your family.
Most foster carers choose to foster for their local council, who have a long history of supporting foster carers and children in care. There are also independent fostering agencies, which are split into three types: charities, not-for-profits and commercial fostering agencies.
Here are some compelling reasons why it makes sense to foster for your local authority:
Keep children local
Coming into care is very unsettling for a child. Having to move to an unfamiliar area can make this even more difficult, especially as it can involve a very long journey to and from school. They may not be able to see friends and family as easily, or continue with hobbies and clubs they may be involved in. Council foster carers will have local children placed with them, which generally leads to much more positive outcomes for the children.
Policies that benefit children
When you foster for your council, your social worker and the children’s social worker are working for the same organisation, following the same policies. The policies are designed to work in the best interests of the children, to achieve the best outcomes for them. This doesn’t always happen as easily with fostering agency staff, as they have to bear in mind the business objectives of their agency too.
Local training and support
Councils provide support and training locally, so you don’t have to travel far to access support. When you foster for a council, you will be part of a large local network of foster carers, which usually have a number of formal and informal carer support groups.
Shorter gaps between placements
Councils will nearly always try and match children with their own carers first. This is because they have recruited, assessed and trained them, therefore know how well they will be able to meet the needs of children that need to be fostered. This often means that if you do get a gap between placements, it is very short. This is important as you’re only paid when you have a placement.
No profit motive
Councils are not like companies. They don’t have shareholders and they don’t have to make a profit. Because of this, the interests of children will always come first and it’s a big reason people choose to foster directly with their local council.
All under one roof
When you are fostering for your local council you are joining a substantial team of people who all work for the same organisation, focused on the needs of the child. For example, the council will also be responsible for education, SEND support, the virtual school and school transport. The council will also have formal links with health and care services. These links are even stronger with the introduction of new integrated care systems (ICS).
Whether you are a prospective carer thinking about applying to foster or an experienced carer wanting to change service provider, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is important to feel comfortable with the people you work with.