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How to choose the right foster care agency for you

Every child is unique, and the same is true for every foster care journey. Whether you are planning to foster yourself or as a couple, finding the right agency to support and help you throughout this life-changing experience is crucial.

In the UK, we are currently experiencing a shortfall of 25,000 foster homes over the next five years. This means that fostering agencies across the UK are doing our utmost to help place children in secure and supportive homes where they can thrive.

This also means that, for prospective carers, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. That’s why we at The Fostering Foundation have put together this guide to choosing your foster care agency, to help you begin your journey.

Starting your foster care journey
One of the most important aspects of a fostering agency is the ongoing support that you will receive throughout a young person’s time spent living with you, regardless of the types of fostering that you are keen to sign up for.

This means that, often, the best way to start your search is by looking at foster care agencies in your immediate area – and so we recommend checking whether an agency has regional branches or offices that can offer you support within a reasonable travelling distance.

The Fostering Foundation, for example, is a small independent organisation with a wide reach. Through our local teams, we cover a large area of the Southwest of England, but remain purposefully small so that we can offer immediate and knowledgeable support and help to our families whenever it’s needed. This support is provided 24/7 365 days a year.

We are proud to provide dedicated local support in:

• Bristol
• Cornwall
• Devon
• Dorset
• Exeter
• Gloucester
• Plymouth
• Somerset
• Torbay
• Wiltshire

Understand the types of fostering agencies in the UK
Within your local area, you will find local authority fostering services as well as independent fostering agencies, like The Fostering Foundation. Independent fostering agencies are responsible for recruiting, training and supporting foster carers before placing children with them.

Many independent agencies may also specialise in particular types of fostering – such as respite care or parent and child fostering – and can help arrange generous financial packages for you to help support young people in your care.

At The Fostering Foundation, we help secure placement for long- and short-term foster care, as well as helping to train carers in therapeutic parenting and more, to help support more vulnerable young people.

For example, we are actively looking for people who would like to support young people with specialist needs through resilience fostering, as well as parent and child fostering.

{link} You can read more about the types of fostering we support here.

Understanding therapeutic parenting
One of the major benefits of working with an independent agency is the training and support networks that come as standard.

We at The Fostering Foundation have created local networks – called “hubs” – of foster carers in addition to our network of social workers, teachers and support staff, in order to make sure our parents have everyday support at every level.

Before you become a foster carer, we offer training that has a particular emphasis on therapeutic approaches, including training in Attachment Theory, PACE and Therapeutic Parenting. We also offer training in First Aid, Child Protection, Managing Behaviours, Gender Identity, Internet Safety and Managing Feelings for Carers – and much more.

Questions to ask agencies before you join
The most important thing is that you are supported in your journey and feel that you have a great rapport with your agency. Some questions to ask an agency could include:

• How large is your agency?
• Can I speak to current foster carers?
• What kind of support can I expect?
• What does the matching process look like?
• How often will I undertake training and development?
• Can we take breaks or holidays?
• What financial package is available for foster carers?

To find out more please contact our friendly staff on 0330 010 2045

Enquire About Fostering

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