How to choose the right fostering agency for you2

How to choose the right fostering agency for you

You’ve made the decision to start your fostering journey but you’re not sure how to choose the fostering agency that’s right for you. Step by Step Fostering are here to help guide you through that process. It’s important to find a fostering agency that aligns with your values, meets your needs, and provides the necessary support for you and the children you’ll be caring for. Here’s our guide to help you make an informed decision:

1. Understand the different types of fostering agencies

There are two main types of fostering agencies: local authority agencies and independent fostering agencies. Step by Step Fostering is an independent fostering agency.

  • Local Authority Agencies (LAs): These are government-run and tend to have a higher volume of placements. They often focus on placing children within the local community.
  • Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs): These are privately operated and can often offer more personalised support. They typically cover a wider geographical area than local authorities, meaning you may have a child placed with you from outside your area.
2. Research and gather information on fostering agencies

Start by compiling a list of potential fostering agencies. The Fostering Network has a directory of agencies, which can be really helpful to look at when you’re starting your research. You can filter your search by location and whether you’re looking for an LA or IFA. Once you have a list, research each agency thoroughly by looking at their website and social media.

3. Evaluate the support and training they provide

Raising a child comes with its challenges and fostering is no different. This is why it’s essential to find an agency that provides comprehensive support and training. Consider the following:

  • Training programs: What initial and ongoing training do they offer? Look for agencies that provide thorough pre-approval training and continuous professional development.

    All our potential foster carers are required to complete Skills to Foster training before they are approved. We also offer continuous training opportunities each year, including trauma-informed training.

  • Support services: Ensure the agency offers 24/7 support, access to social workers, and additional resources like support groups and respite care. Some agencies, such as Step by Step Fostering, are able to offer all of these things.

We also go one step further by offering a dedicated support worker who will be there for the entirety of your journey.

4. Assess their placement process

Understanding how the agency matches children with foster families is crucial. A good agency will consider the needs of the child and the capabilities and preferences of the foster parents. At Step by Step Fostering, both you and the looked after child will have a choice as to whether you wish to be matched with each other.

5. Enquire about financial support

While fostering is not about the money, it’s important to ensure you will be financially supported to provide for the child’s needs. Find out what financial allowances each agency provides and ensure the amount covers the cost of caring for a child.

There is no set fee when it comes to fostering. The amount of money you receive depends on a range of factors, including the agency you choose, how many children you foster, the individual needs of the child, the type of fostering you can provide, and your own unique skill set. At Step by Step Fostering, we pay anywhere between £380 to £585 per week depending on the placement type.

6. Consider each agency’s experience

An agency’s experience can speak volumes. How long has the agency been operating? An established agency with a proven track record is often more reliable.

While Step by Step Fostering is a relatively new agency, we have over 35 years of experience working with young people facing hard times (and their families) through our sister charity Step by Step.

7. Meet the agency’s fostering team

Arrange to meet the team in person if possible. This gives you a sense of their professionalism and the support you can expect. After your initial enquiry, the first step of your journey with Step by Step Fostering will be a phone call with a member of our friendly team. After the phone call, we will arrange a home visit with you so you can get to know the team in person. You should:

  • Ask questions: Prepare a list of questions about their processes, support systems, and any concerns you may have.
  • Assess communication: Pay attention to how they communicate. Are they transparent, helpful, and respectful?

If you’re looking for a brief introduction to our team before you enquire, you can check out our meet the team interviews:

8. Trust your instincts

Ultimately, trust your instincts. Choose an agency where you feel comfortable, supported, and confident in their ability to help you succeed as a foster parent.

Choosing the right fostering agency is a significant decision that can greatly impact your fostering experience. Take the time to research, ask questions, and consider all aspects before making your choice. The right agency will provide you with the support and resources needed to make a positive difference in a child’s life.

If you’re interested in starting your fostering journey, or thinking about transferring agencies, our amazing team are here to help. Simply fill out our enquiry form and we’ll be in touch to answer any questions you may have.