Choosing a fostering agency – top 10 questions to ask
Posted: Wednesday 23rd August 2017
Choosing to foster is a big decision, and choosing who to foster with can make a big difference. Not all agencies and local authorities are the same. I’ve worked in fostering for 11 years, and if I was considering becoming a foster carer, what questions would I ask – as someone “in the know”!! The important things to me would be:
- Will I get lots of children (or “placements”) that will fit with me and my family?
- Will I get the support that I need?
Where to start??
Statement of Purpose
Most fostering services will have a “statement of purpose”. You can sometimes find this on their website or you can ask to see it. This basically spells out what the fostering service does, how many people work there, what types of fostering they offer etc. Here are a couple of examples:
Have a look at the statement of purpose for the fostering service you are considering.
Fostering services are regularly inspected, a bit like schools, to make sure that everything is running as it should. You can read a fostering service’s last inspection report here:
Wales : cssiw.org.uk
England : ofsted.gov.uk
Scotland : careinspectorate.com
Approved providers list
If you are considering an independent fostering service, check that they are on the preferred providers list for your area. These are the agencies that a local authority will call, if they don’t have an in-house foster carer to meet the needs of the child. For example : Children's Commissioning Consortium Cymru (4C's) all-Wales Foster Placement Framework 2015.
So what questions would I ask, when choosing to foster with the local authority or independent agency…
- Where will my social worker be based?
- How many foster carers do they support each? And how often will they visit me?
- Do the fostering social workers work full time, permanent or agency staff?
- Where will my training be held? Local or head office?
- Where will the child’s social worker be based?
- Where will meetings about the child be held?
- How many other foster carers live in my area?
- How many children did you place with your foster carers in the last 12 months? And what age brackets were those children in?
- What area/local authority were they from?
- How many of your foster carers are currently without a placement?
By the end of this, you should know what qualifications and experience the fostering team has that will be supporting you, what children they will be asking you to take, how busy the fostering agency is and where you will need to travel to/from on a regular basis.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions… the fostering service will be asking you lots of questions to become a foster carer. Most agencies will be able and happy to give you this information, and if they are not – try somewhere else!
FYI…Here are the answers for Flintshire Fostering Service
Where will my social worker be based?
How many foster carers do they support each? And how often will they visit me?
12-15. You will receive at least 8 visits a year from your supervisor, more if you need extra support
Do the fostering social workers work full time?
Most of the fostering team are full time permanent members of staff. We have one part-time social worker
Where will my training be held? Local or head office?
Our training is held locally in Ewloe.
Where will the child’s social worker be based?
Flint, in the same office as the fostering team
Where will meetings about the child be held?
Usually in the Flint office, or the child’s school or carer’s home
How many other foster carers live in my area?
124 foster carers foster locally with Flintshire County Council, and you can get to meet lots of them at coffee mornings and events.
How many children did you place with your foster carers in the last 12 months? And what age brackets were those children in?
Last year we had placement requests for 108 children, mostly babies and over 10’s.
What area/local authority were they from?
The children are usually from Flintshire
How many of your foster carers are currently without a placement?
97% of our foster carers are full with placements (April 2017)
Statement of purpose
Available from the fostering team
Preferred provider list
The local authority has responsibility for all of the children and will search for a foster carer who can best meet the needs of the child, starting with their own carers. When a local authority can not place children with their own carers , they will approach other agencies. The child will still have a local authority social worker.
Flintshire will initially consider agencies in Wales, on the 4C’s preferred providers list, and then on occasion if it’s in the child’s best interest, we will look further afield.