There are two main types of fostering service:
Local authorities (in England, Scotland and Wales) and Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland, which look after children and young people in care – sometimes known as their corporate parent. They also assess, train and approve foster carers to care for them.
Independent fostering providers (IFPs) are focused solely on recruiting and training foster carers for children who are in the local authority’s care. IFPs can either run on a profit-making basis or a not-for-profit basis, sometimes with charitable status.
Your fostering service will be there to assess, train and support you as well as provide a financial package, so it is important that you find the one that feels right for you. Fostering services often run events and we recommend that you attend a few. These events will help you get an idea of which service you think you could work with. You may want to consider the following:
- How easy is it to reach?
- Are they recruiting?
- How welcoming are they?
- What services and support do they offer?
Getting turned away
If the fostering service cannot help you after initial contact don’t despair! Make a note of the reasons they give and then speak to another service. Different providers all have their own immediate needs and priorities, and being turned away by one does not necessarily mean you are unsuitable to be a foster carer.