Prospective foster carers have a choice when fostering. They can choose an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) or Local Authority (LA). Both have their advantages, and it depends on you which one you’d like to apply with.
Whichever you choose, you’ll be carrying out a very worthwhile role by helping to provide safe and supportive homes for children and young people.
Whether you apply with an IFA or an LA, you’ll need to have a spare room available so that you can provide a foster child with their own space. One difference between an agency and local authority is that we allow you to start the application process whilst the room you’ll be providing isn’t available yet. This is ideal for those that have children that are leaving for university.
Either way, make sure that you arrange a visit to your chosen agency or local authority so that you can ask plenty of questions and gain an insight into what is entailed.
Understanding your potential placements
Children are placed within local authority when possible, but they also work closely with agencies to find suitable homes for babies, children and young people in need. IFAs usually cover a wider geographical range than local authorities, meaning that you may get a child from out of the area. IFAs are also more likely to have foster carers who specialise in placing children with particular needs. These can include:
- Mental or physical disabilities
- Challenging behaviour
- Longer-term placements
- Sibling groups
- Respite care
- Parent and baby
Payments and fee structures
To really enjoy being a foster carer, it’s essential that you find true joy in nurturing the needs of children and young people. Whether you choose to go with an agency or with the LA you will receive financial compensation either in the form of payments or fostering allowance.
Agency foster care has more ready support in place for foster parents and here at Freedom Fostering we have someone at the end of the phone 24 hours a day to help when you need advice. As one of our foster carers, you’ll get to know everyone on the team, meaning that you’ll know the face of the person on the other end of the phone no matter the time of day.
So, which one’s best?
What’s most important is that you find a fostering service that is the best fit for you. Explore your options to get the best feel for whether an IFA or LA would suit you and your family best. If you’re already registered with an agency or local authority, but you’d like to transfer, get in touch with our team to find out more.