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Fostering with your local council

If you are thinking of fostering, it can be confusing to work out where to start. Local Community Fostering can help. We can answer all your fostering questions and give you expert advice about fostering in your personal circumstances. When you’re ready to apply to become a foster carer, we put you in touch with your local council

You may come across independent fostering agencies (IFAs). These are mostly profit-making businesses; there are many reasons why fostering for your local council can be a better choice.

Woman sat on the sofa with 2 children, cuddling the younger child while looking with a smile at the older girl, who is sat holding a TV remote and has her legs resting on a table

Keep children local

Councils are local. Fostering agencies tend to be regional or even national. Agency foster carers can have children placed with them from towns, cities and villages many miles away.

Coming into care is very unsettling for a child. Moving to an unfamiliar area can make this trauma worse, especially if it involves long journeys to and from school. Children may not be able to see friends and family as easily, or continue with hobbies and clubs they may be involved in.

Council foster carers have local children placed with them, which often leads to more positive outcomes for the children.

Policies that benefit children

When you foster for your local council, your supervising social worker and the children’s social worker are both working for the same organisation, following the same policies and standards of professional practice. These are designed solely to work in the best interests of children and to achieve the best outcomes for them.

Independent fostering agencies need to consider their business objectives alongside children’s best interests.

A family is gathered in a cozy living room, engaging in playful activities together. A young child is sitting on the floor, working on a Rubik's cube. The second child is kneeling and carefully placing a block on top of a Jenga tower. An adult woman seated on a couch, is watching the Jenga game with a smile. Another adult, a man, is sitting on the floor with his legs stretched out, clapping his hands in encouragement.

Local training & support

Your local council provides local support and training. Agency foster carers often need to travel long distances to get support and training. Lots of regional fostering agency offices have closed over the last few years, which has meant their carers need to travel even further for training and support.

Councils find homes for children from a range of diverse backgrounds and circumstances

Councils are responsible for the care of children from newborn up to the age of 18 and will nearly always try and match children with their own carers before turning to an agency. This is because they have recruited, assessed and trained their carers and understand how well matched their carers are to the children that need to be fostered.

A young boy on a beanbag concentrating on playing a small blue guitar, sat in-between two smiling adult women who are sitting on a green sofa.

Much larger local support network

When you foster for your local council, you will become part of a supportive local community of foster carers. Each local council has a range of formal and informal support groups. Conversely agency foster carers can be spread over a wide area and can feel quite isolated as a result.

Bigger is better

Your local council is a large organisation with local knowledge and access to lots of local resources and services. Many fostering agencies are spread across large areas; therefore they’re unlikely to have access to the same level of local knowledge, resources and services that your local council does.

Three smiling teenagers sat around a kitchen table with sandwiches on the table in front on them, there is an adult in the background with his back to the camera who looks like they are preparing food.

Councils pay expenses on top of weekly allowances

You may see adverts from fostering agencies which draw attention to the financial rewards of fostering. They often appear to pay higher allowances than those paid by your local council.

It’s important to check if, as an agency foster carer, you would be expected to cover all the costs of fostering out of this allowance. This can soon add up!

In addition to a weekly financial allowance, your local council will often have other financial benefits to support ad-hoc costs, such as birthdays and other celebrations. Often this means council foster carers are actually better off than those fostering for an agency.

A teenage girl with curly hair is sitting at a wooden kitchen table, looking up to an adult who is holding salad servers and serving a colourful salad from a large bowl. There is another person out of the picture holding the bowl steady.

More money for local children’s services

The majority of fostering agencies are businesses. In 2021 the Competition and Markets Authority launched a study into children’s social care in response to two major concerns. First, that local authorities were often unable to find suitable homes to meet the needs of children in their care. Second, that the prices paid by councils were high and this, combined with growing numbers of children in care, was placing significant strain on council budgets, limiting their ability to fund other important activities in children’s services and beyond. The study found significant problems, including:

  • the largest private providers of placements are making materially higher profits, and charging materially higher prices, than we would expect if this market were functioning effectively
  • some of the largest private providers are carrying very high levels of debt, creating a risk that disorderly failure of highly leveraged firms could disrupt the placements of children in care
  • a lack of alternative homes of the right kind, in the right places, means that children are not consistently getting access to care and accommodation that meets their needs.

To find out about how your Council supports foster carers, click the logos below

Get in touch to find out more about fostering with your local council

Take the first step towards becoming a foster carer for your local council and change a child’s life forever. You could become part of a community of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things, every day.

Complete the short form and one of our fostering experts will be in touch. Or give us a call on 020 8496 3437 or e-mail hello@localcommunityfostering.co.uk.

We’re ready to hear from you.

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