What’s the difference between fostering with Local Authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies?

Author: TACT

Tags: Foster Carer, Fostering

Date: 12th January 2018

Foster carer’s in the UK have the choice of registering to work with a local authority or with an independent fostering agency (IFA). Here at TACT we are classed as an IFA, but unlike many others, we are a charity who make zero profit from the work we do. This means all our surplus income is reinvested into helping the children we care for and their foster carers. Whether you choose to foster with an LA or an IFA like ourselves, you’ll be carrying out a rewarding, worthwhile role by providing a safe and loving home for a child. However, depending on which route you choose you will notice some subtle differences – hopefully the following blog will help you to understand some of these differences and help you to decide which you will be most suited to.

Even for placements which are made by IFA’s, local authorities are legally responsible for the safeguarding and outcomes of all looked after children. Originally, there were no IFA’s and all children who came into care were placed by their local authority. Due to a variety of reasons, LA’s couldn’t match supply with demand and therefore fostering agencies and charities like ourselves began to operate. At TACT, we work very closely with local authorities to find suitable placements for children within their care. We have regional offices located across England, Scotland and Wales which allows us to support local authorities and have a team of specialists who can support our foster carers and looked after children all around the UK.

Although we work closely with local authorities, there are a number of key differences between them and IFA’s like TACT, and these may help you to decide which you’d be most suited to fostering with:

  • The age of children who need fostering tends to be higher with TACT and other IFA’s than with local authorities. This is because LA’s find it more difficult to place older children than babies. At TACT, we therefore encourage prospective carers to be as unrestrictive as possible when stating the age of child they would like to foster, as this will give us a much bigger chance of making a placement. If you are only interested in specifically fostering babies, in most areas it would probably be best to contact your local authority.
  • Fees and allowances provided to foster carers by TACT and other IFA’s are generally higher than those provided by local authorities. Of course, there is no set figure you will receive, and will vary case by case depending on factors such as the number of children you have in placement, the age of the children and the needs of each child (for example if they have disabilities or special circumstances).
  • Levels of support and training will vary hugely between local authorities and each fostering agency, with local authorities normally not having the capacity to offer the same level of support. As a TACT foster carer, you will benefit from local support and advice 24/7, your own designated social worker to support you through your journey, opportunities to attend regular support groups and meetings, plus a comprehensive training programme. To find out more about our support provided and our training provided, please click the links.

 

While we at TACT are classed as an independent fostering agency, we differ from many other IFA’s in that we are not-for-profit, and the UK’s largest fostering charity. This means that instead of making money from the placing of children to foster homes, all of our surplus income goes back into improving the lives of our foster carers and the children we care for.

 

If you would like to find out information, you can request an information pack by clicking here, or alternatively, if you would like to speak to someone about fostering with TACT, you can call us on 0330 123 2250.