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Advice & Guides
Fostering Advice

How to Choose a Foster Care Agency

Before you begin your fostering journey, one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is choosing a foster care agency. The right agency will provide you with the support, training and resources you need to succeed as a foster carer. There are various topics you should be paying attention to when navigating the different agencies, and we’re here to make that process easier for you.
1.
Reflect on What You Need from a Fostering Agency

The first thing you should do before looking into the different fostering agencies is take some time to reflect on your own goals and requirements. You should consider the following:

  • What type of fostering are you interested in (short-term, long-term, parent and child, etc.)?
  • What age group and needs of children are you prepared to support?
  • What level of involvement and support do you need from an agency?

It’s important to understand what your own motivations and limitations are fully before you begin your research, as this will help you identify the agency that best aligns with your fostering aspirations.

2.
Researching and Comparing Fostering Agencies

Now that you know what your motivations and limitations are, you can then start to research and compare the various fostering agencies in the UK. When conducting your research, you should factor things in such as training programmes, reputation, community engagement and local support offered. Here’s why:

Training Programmes

Becoming a foster carer is a commitment that requires substantial growth and development. This is why you should focus on agencies which offer comprehensive training programmes, both before and after you start fostering. These programmes equip foster carers with essential skills to support the diverse needs of foster children, promoting their emotional and physical wellbeing. There are many challenges that may arise along your journey, so receiving the right training is crucial for making sure you’re prepared.

Reputation and OFSTED

Another crucial aspect to look into when researching the different UK fostering agencies is their reputation and OFSTED ratings. All independent agencies must be registered with OFSTED and undergo regular inspections to ensure that they are providing the best level of care and support. When choosing an agency, you should go for ones that are rated as OUTSTANDING or GOOD, as they clearly demonstrate a commitment to improvement. Additionally, you should also check if the agency has testimonials or feedback from foster carers and children, as these perspectives can help you to gauge the agency’s reliability and suitability for your needs.

Community and Support

Finally, you will also need to examine each fostering agency’s support packages, as quite a few vary from each other. Ideally, you’d want to go for an agency that has local teams and resources to ensure accessible and timely assistance. It’s also crucial that the agency is able to provide regular support and supervision from your Supervising Social Worker, as this can be a game changer for your fostering experience. Some agencies also offer respite arrangements, which are vital for avoiding burnout and giving carers a break to recharge their batteries. There are also agencies such as Compass that offer carers the chance to get involved with forums, allowing them to regularly share their views and make active improvements within their community.

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At Compass, we will always pair you with the best possible match.

3.
What Questions Should You Ask Your Chosen Fostering Agency?

At this point in your journey, you should now have a rough idea of what fostering agencies you are most interested in. As you get closer to making your initial enquiry, you should start to prepare a list of potential questions that you may have. Here are some things you should ask your potential fostering agency:

  • Could I have some more details on how you support foster carers?
  • How do you match children with foster carers?
  • How are emergencies handled within the agency?
  • What training programmes do you provide?
  • What financial support and payment structures are available?
4.
Financial Considerations

Fostering is a full-time commitment, so it’s important that you go for an agency that is fully transparent about how much fostering allowance you will receive, as well as what other monetary benefits you may be entitled to.  

 Which foster care agency pays the most?

While financial considerations are important, they should not be the sole factor in your decision. It’s important to balance the financial aspects with the quality of support and training provided. For example, at Compass there is no set allowance that foster carers receive, but on average our carers receive £482 per week for every child living in their home. This is all alongside our comprehensive support systems and REACH model, which is why our agency is one of the top choices for foster carers in the UK.

Choosing a Fostering Agency

Now that you’ve done all your research, it’s finally time to reach out to your chosen fostering agency. Ultimately, choosing the right fostering agency comes down to you and your personal requirements. However, it isn’t one to be taken lightly, so make sure that you use the information gathered from your reflections, research and questions to make an informed decision. Always remember the importance of support and training in your fostering journey and consider Compass Fostering for our comprehensive and child-centred approach. With the right agency by your side, you can make a meaningful difference in a child’s life.

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