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We know that the decision to foster is a huge one; from the initial stages of talking to your friends and family to approaching an agency or the local authority, you will have already been on quite the journey! By making the decision to become a foster parent, you are immediately part of a very special group of people willing to open your heart and your home to children that need it. Regardless of if you choose to foster with us or not, we would like to say a huge thank you for your willingness to make a difference.
Making the decision on which fostering agency to foster for can be overwhelming; there are lots of options, with each agency offering different things. We hope that this blog will help to answer some of your questions, give you some things to think about and give you our top tips on how to choose the best fostering agency for you. It’s an important decision, and one not to rush into…
Where do I start?
We find that the very best place to start is speaking to friends and family; do they foster? Do they have any recommendations? Have they heard of any good fostering agencies? Always approach the people you trust first- they will be able to give you an honest and unbiased opinion!
Do your research:
A good place to start is the internet! A quick ‘fostering agencies near me’ search will bring up a plethora of options but remember not to choose from just the website alone! Head to their social media pages, look for reviews and testimonials, do they feel like the right fit for you? Do they hold the same values as you? Take your time, there is no rush!
Remember to always read their Ofsted or CIW reports; these give a great indication and a professional view about what you can expect from the agency.
How do I decide who to choose?
This is a big question with no easy answer! We would advise writing down the things that are important to you, and what you hope to gain from this working fostering relationship. Click here to find out more about our ethos and values.
Have a look at the agency’s websites, blogs, videos and social media pages to see if you think they would be a good fit. Remember, you can have an initial call or conversation with as many or as few agencies as you like, but these are some essential things we think you should look out for in these early stages, and some of the things that are important to Family Fostering Partners…
It is important to consider what support the fostering agency can provide to you as an individual, to your family, and to the looked after children in your care. Fostering is a journey with lots of highs, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few bumps in the road too. Ask the question; ‘who will support me?’ ‘How accessible is the support on offer?’ ‘Will the support be consistently given by the same person?’.
At Family Fostering Partners, each of our foster parents have a dedicated Link Worker that is there to provide support to them, the children in their care, and their wider family. Our fantastic link workers are only a text or phone call away. ‘Nobody is inaccessible’ explains Katie, a foster parent with Family Fostering Partners, when asked what she liked about working with our agency. You can hear more from Katie here.
In addition to our day to day support, we also hold regular support groups for our foster parents to meet up and chat over a coffee. These are led by our link workers and our super Foster Parent Retention Manager Hannah, who is always at the end of the phone. Hannah is also the admin for our closed Facebook pages – a safe space to swap ideas, share news and photos. Learn more about Hannah's role here.
For issues that arise outside of the normal working hours or on weekends, we also offer a 24hr on call service for advice and support when you need it. Our support worker Steph also provides day care in emergency cases or special circumstances. All of our foster parents also have a membership to ‘Foster Talk’, an independent organisation that offers counselling, advice and more.
Ongoing training should be offered regularly and is crucial to success as a foster parent. As the children in your care grow or rules and regulations change, it is important that foster parents are updated, or their skills refreshed. Alongside compulsory training, we have a dedicated Training Manager who delivers tailor made training to our foster parents, covering topics such as ‘Internet Safety Training, Attachment Training, Gro Brain, Placement Endings, The Teenage Brain, Valuing Diversity and more.’
Being part of a fostering community
When considering which fostering agency to apply to, it’s important to consider the community of people you will be undertaking this fostering journey with. The saying goes, ‘it takes a village!’ Would you prefer to be part of a nation-wide agency, or a smaller family run agency? Are there many opportunities to meet up with other foster parents locally? How will you fit in?
Peer support is really important at FFP, which is why we have regular support groups for our foster parents. Support groups are a fantastic opportunity to talk to likeminded people about their fostering experiences and receive advice, support, share a story, or even just come for the cake!
Family Fostering Partners host regular days out for the fostering families in our remit, these days are a great opportunity for people to get to know each other and expand their community and friendships within the agency. Our foster parents also use closed Facebook groups where stories, ideas and pictures are posted regularly, and unitedly we celebrate each others successes. Check out our Wales and England open Facebook pages.
It is absolutely crucial that you have good communication with your fostering agency. Open, honest dialogue lends to successful working relationships, with both parties working for the best possible outcomes of the children in our care. It is important to choose an agency that responds quickly to your questions and queries, right from the get go!
At FFP, we pride ourselves on always being contactable. Whether it’s 4am or 4pm, someone will always be there to answer the phone and offer you advice and guidance. Our link workers visit regularly, and share their contact numbers with your family, so should they have any questions, they can contact them directly.
During the process of being assessed, we always maintain an open and honest dialogue. We promise to be clear with you about our expectations whilst holding your hand through the thorough process.
In the early stages of deciding who to foster with, you might have a few questions. You can send us a direct message on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We are also contactable on WhatsApp, email or through our website- somebody will respond to you that same day. At Family Fostering Partners, we never shy away from the difficult or awkward questions – please don’t be afraid to ask!
Go with your gut
Our final and most important tip!
Our foster parent Jane explains ‘we had researched FFP before we went with them, and all of the reviews looked really good. It just felt right when we met up with the people there.’
Sometimes, you will just ‘get that feeling’ and know if an agency is a good fit for you and your family. Don’t ignore that feeling!
We hope this blog has helped in some way with giving you points to consider when embarking on your fostering journey! If you have any questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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