Karen – TACT Foster Carer since 2017
After 15 months fostering with my local authority, I was beginning to feel undervalued and started to look into new fostering providers. I felt I was being treated unfairly as I was taking more challenging placements than other foster carers I spoke to who only cared for babies or very young children. Yet while they were being paid a higher rate, I was receiving a lower rate despite caring for child and parent placements.
After doing some research into other fostering agencies and charities, I came across TACT. The views of the CEO which were very child-centred reflected my own, while the fact that TACT is a charity was very important to me. I would not have transferred to a profit-based organisation, so I liked the fact that any money which TACT made was reinvested into their young people and foster families. The organisation is totally focused around the well-being of the young people and foster carers, unlike many other fostering providers where decisions can revolve around the profits received by shareholders.
While there are some benefits to fostering through local authorities, the impact of austerity continues to have a tough impact on them meaning that the overall service, from support and training to fees and allowances, can sometimes struggle to match the levels of other fostering providers. While training I received from my local authority was good, I have experienced a wider range of training which benefits me as a foster carer since I’ve transferred to TACT. For example, TACT provide specific training courses for child and parent placements who I have cared for. This, combined with the support of weekly visits and regular phone calls from my supervising social worker, has been hugely beneficial.
I think it’s important for experienced, current foster carers who are thinking about transferring to consider the type of placements you want to care for. Generally, local authorities are able to place babies and toddlers with their own carers so if these are exclusively the only children you want to care for it may be better to foster through your local authority. However, if you’re willing to care for children of a variety of ages and sometimes with more complex circumstances, I would definitely recommend you look into not-for-profit fostering organisations like TACT, where the children are put at the centre of every decision made rather than because of financial motivations.