In very simple terms, the role of an independent fostering agency is to place vulnerable children in foster homes. The ‘looked-after’ children are referred by a local authority. Independent Fostering Agencies – also known as IFAs have been part of the fostering services provision landscape for over two decades. IFAs really came into being as local authorities found that they could not keep pace with the demand for foster homes. Local authorities are responsible, not only for fostering – child protection and adoption fall within their remit. Independent Fostering Agencies now play a vital role as they concentrate exclusively on fostering. This means that they relieve pressure on hard pressed local authorities up and down the country.
There is currently a shortage of over 8,000 foster families in the UK. Independent Fostering Agencies play a crucial role in the ongoing activity of recruiting new carers into the system. And they have a commercial interest in finding the best potential foster care applicants they can. IFAs then organise the support and training to assist new applicants right from from the initial enquiry through to being approved as foster carers.
An IFA works in close partnership with a local authority who provide them with referrals for youngsters. A very important part of the role of the IFA is to offer specialist fostering services to local authorities. They have to match foster carers to placement referrals as closely as it is possible. Today IFAs are all challenged by the need to find foster care placements for increasing numbers of children who have complex needs. Over 65% of children now coming into care have suffered some form of abuse. IFAs are increasingly training foster carers to foster therapeutically. This means they can look after children who have had traumatic experiences prior to coming into care.
Foster care and Ofsted
There are a range of legal requirements that IFAs need to meet. This includes registering with Ofsted. Visiting the site https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted/about
will provide information about Ofsted:
‘Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. We inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.’
IFAs as fostering service providers need to demonstrate that they follow the national minimum standards for fostering services; as well as the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 4: Fostering Services*
*Children Act 1989 ‘Guidance and Regulations Volume 4’: Fostering Services, Department for Education, 2013; www.gov.uk/government/publications/children-act-1989-fostering-services
Foster care: change your career and change your life in 2018
Foster carers can enable vulnerable children to have a fresh start in life and to flourish. Fostering offers the convenience of working from home – a competitive income and all the training you need to develop your career. Some children may have suffered trauma arising from abuse or neglect. Rainbow provide the specialist training for carers to foster therapeutically. This can mean being remunerated at a higher rate. We also offer the chance to acquire qualifications in therapeutic fostering. In England, an additional 6,800 new foster families need to be found over the next twelve months. Hopefully, you might be one of them. We are recruiting right now – to learn more about the opportunities foster care has to offer, contact us on 020 8427 3355. You can also reach us on our National Line 0330 311 2845. We provide a specialist fostering service for local authorities in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire. Rainbow have twenty plus years experience providing carefully matched placements so our foster carers can really make a difference to the lives of the children they care for.
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Good news at the end of this Rainbow…we have had a great response not our summer literacy competition inviting our youngsters to write a review of their favourite book. Winners will be announced later in the year! And there will be a prize for all who entered.