Foster care: the functions of an independent fostering agency 2

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Foster care: the functions of an independent fostering agency 2

Foster understanding of IFAs 2

Foster knowledge of IFAs 2

Independent fostering agencies (IFAs) have as their main functions – recruiting, assessing, approving, supporting and training people interested in becoming foster carers. The foster carers’ agencies will receive referrals sent by local authorities and then work to make the best match between a child and foster carer. Because of the changing nature and demands of the foster care sector, training is becoming increasingly important. Why is the case? Sadly, research has shown that 65% of children who now come into care have been traumatised by their experiences, this means that agencies are increasingly looking to train people to become therapeutic foster carers. This type of foster carer receives training that helps them to support therapeutic recovery programmes devised to help children overcome such experiences. This means there is a much greater emphasis on recruitment. Placements need to be stable so it is important to find applicants who can be trained to be resilient.

Apart from the pressures of recruiting, To properly fulfil the role as an independent fostering agency, certain key elements are required to be in place. These are to have –

  1. A registered manager.
  1. A SOP (statement of purpose). This defines the overall aim of the independent fostering agency along with the children they care for; the law sets out the information this must contain**.
  1. A registered provider and, where the provider is an organisation such as a company, a person known as a ‘responsible individual’ who will be able to represent the agency to Ofsted.
  1. A children’s guide: this is a summary of the SOP, complaints procedure as well as the address and  telephone number of Ofsted. This is presented in a form that is age appropriate to the comprehension and the communication needs of the children and young people an IFA provides services for.

       **The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, Regulation 3 (1);

An IFA will form an integral part of ‘The Team Around The Child – or TAC. The IFA will provide training and support.  It will also supervise social workers so they can cover all the different types of foster care – these are listed below:

1)   emergency placement;

2)   long-term placement;

3)   short-term placement;

4)   leaving care and supported lodgings;

5)   parent and baby/child;

6)   short-break;

7)   support care;

8)   remand care;

9)   respite care;

10) sibling group;

11) specialist foster care requiring therapeutic provision;

12) bridging foster placement;

13) fostering a disabled child;

14) kinship care;

15) fostering to potentially lead to adopting a child;

16) fostering unaccompanied asylum seekers.

As can be seen, there are quite a few different categories of foster care provision for people to choose to specialise in. Each will offer its own challenges and rewards. The role of an IFA is to help its foster carers – applicants and existing foster carers – to decide which area(s) of fostering will be most suitable for them, their family and general circumstances.

An IFA will have a role in meeting specific requirements

An independent foster care agency has to demonstrate that it can consistently provide high quality services. it is  assumed they will have foster carers trained, supported and able to meet the needs of children with more complex behavioural issues. The IFA will have to show it can provide targeted support capable of meeting widely differing needs. These may cover areas including – education, health and social welfare. Past research has estimated that twenty to thirty percent of children and teenagers will have additional needs during their time in foster care. These might well be associated with:

  1. disruptive or anti-social behaviour;
  2. poor attendance or exclusion from school;
  3. the experience of having been, or being bullied;
  4. parental conflict;
  5. lack of parental control, support or being able to set boundaries;
  6. involvement in crime, or risk of offending;
  7. post sixteen issues such as disengagement from education, training or employment;
  8. children with disabilities;
  9. CSE – child sexual exploitation;
  10. teenage pregnancy;
  11. anxiety or depression;
  12. substance abuse;
  13. experiencing or witnessing domestic violence;
  14. poor health, poor nutrition and a lack of medical and or dental care;
  15. neglect – poor personal hygiene;
  16. mental health issues.

More complex foster care requirements will be catered for

Children and young people will, of course, have individual needs. A significant; and disturbingly – since it is increasing – number will present with more serious or complex needs. And these will require statutory involvement: mainly, they will be foster care leavers, children and young people for whom adoption has been planned; youngsters who are the subject of a CPP (child protection plan); children and young people with complex special educational needs; youngsters with complex disabilities or complex health needs; young offenders in the charge of youth justice services – both community and custodial; children and young people who have been diagnosed with mental health problems and unaccompanied asylum seekers – many of whom cannot speak English.

The up-to-date foster care figures for England as supplied by Ofsted

These figures for 2016 / 2017 include foster care provision for both local authority and IFA services. They relate to the situation in England for the year ending March 31st 2017. Significant figures:

  1. At 31st March, 2017, there were 83,930 approved foster care places. This represented an increase of one per cent on the previous year.
  2. At 31st March, 2017, there were 43,710 approved foster care households. This represented a decrease of one per cent on the previous year.
  3. At 31st March, 2017, 114,425 initial enquiries had been received. This compares to a figure of 101,795 during 2015/16. This represented an increase of twelve per cent – down one per cent in the local authority (LA) sector, and up twenty per cent in the independent fostering agency (IFA) sector.

Which Independent Foster Care Agency should I choose?

Independent fostering agencies all strive to find secure and stable foster homes for children. As well as caring for our youngsters, a central part of our ethos and culture is to care for our foster carers in every way that we can. We never forget that people have a choice. And we know our carers and their children have aspirations. That is a great thing and we cherish it. So we dedicate ourselves to making sure our Rainbow community is a place where all can achieve their goals and thrive along the way.

Foster carers can offer the chance for vulnerable children to get a fresh start in life. And this way they can start to flourish. Being a foster carer offers the convenience of working from home and a  competitive income. Training is provided so a foster carer can develop their career in a number of directions.

We are keen to talk today to anyone with an interest in being a foster carer: ring 020 8427 3355 or our National Line 0330 311 2845. We have been established for over twenty years and provide a dedicated fostering service for local authorities in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Visit our website and catch up with the latest fostering news at

All blogs written by Will Saunders: Rainbow Fostering – Content Management/Marketing

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