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Independent Fostering Agencies vs Local Authorities – What’s the Difference?

If you’re new to fostering, you may be wondering what the difference is between independent foster agencies and local authorities. As a new or prospective carer, you have the choice whether to register with your local authority (LA) or with an independent fostering agency (IFA), such as Family Fostering Partners! 

Local councils are legally responsible for the safeguarding of all children and young people who enter the care system. When a child needs to be looked after, the LA will initially be in charge of placing the child with one of their registered carers. IFAs work in close conjunction with LAs to place children in nurturing environments that are suitable for their needs. LAs may look to independent agencies if they don’t have enough foster parents to meet the demand, or if they don’t have any carers located in that area. 

The most important thing when placing children and young people is that they are guaranteed the right nurture and support. Often, children may have special needs or behavioural issues that require a particular skill set. These types of skills are often developed and supported in IFAs like us and the LA will look to match children with foster parents who can offer these specific skills as it will be a huge benefit for the child. LAs and IFAs will always work together to ensure the very best outcome for the child involved. 

Whether you’re new to foster care, or considering transferring, there are plenty of reasons why fostering with an IFA is a great idea! When you join Family Fostering Partners you benefit from a community approach, and round the clock support. We really are a family and we will stand by you every step of the way.

Reasons to choose an IFA: 

  • Fostering allowance - the allowance that you are paid varies from agency to agency but tends to be higher than local authorities. We offer a very generous allowance that covers the cost of caring for a child and also acknowledges the hard work and time commitment you dedicate to your role. Find out more here.
  • Family approach - regular events are hosted for foster parents and other members of our team to gain a support network of like-minded people. 
  • Specialist training - all of our carers receive full initial training as well as ongoing training on various specialities and subjects. We are dedicated to therapeutic fostering and have designed our training around this, providing our carers with the skills and knowledge they need to provide children with the best possible futures. Read more about our attachment-focused approach and training ethos here. 
  • Ongoing support - the level of support you will receive at an IFA is unrivalled compared to LAs. Family Fostering Partners are committed to supporting carers from the initial inquiry through to their first placement and beyond with regular visits from experienced link workers and a 24-hour support service. 

If you need more convincing, please read our ‘why choose us’ web page for more information!

To begin your journey with us, all you need to do is pick up the phone or send an email. Whether you’re interested in transferring to us, or just want to begin your foster care career, call us on 03300 948816 or send us an email to info@familyfosteringpartners.co.uk. Alternatively, you can use our live chat tool or fill out our contact form.  

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