Becoming a foster carer FAQ: Fostering Agency vs Local Authority?

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You may have many questions about fostering and have questions about the the various different ways you can foster children, and these normally will be through an independent fostering agency (IFA) such as Mosaic Foster Care, or via your local authority,  Here we outline some of the key differences in these approaches.

Types of Fostering

There are many different types of fostering.  This may include brief respite care to offer a carer or parent a break, short-term foster care, for example when the plan is for the child or young person to return home, specialist foster care such as parent and child assessment placements, and long-term care providing for children and young people until they are ready for independence.  At Mosaic Foster Care, we recognise that the road to recovery for children and young people who have experienced significant trauma is long term.   Children need time to build trusting and caring relationships with their foster families and benefit from professional support offered.

Fostering Providers

Fostering is provided either by local authorities (the state) or an independent provider.

Local Authorities 

Local authorities have the lead responsibility to look after children and young people in care as their corporate parent. They will directly recruit foster parents to care for children and young people from within their catchment area.  This enables children to be placed in foster homes near their families of origin.  Local authorities can offer localised access to support groups, training and social work support.

Independent Fostering Agencies  

Independent fostering agencies (IFAs) started operating in the early 1990s as a result in a shortfall of foster homes being provided by local authorities who were at the time struggling to recruit and retain foster parents.

IFAs recruit foster parents to offer homes on behalf of the local authorities through commissioning arrangements.  Although this comes at a cost to local authorities, there is still no evidence to suggest that independent foster care is a more costly option when comparing similar needs and factoring in the full cost of providing a service.

Just like local authorities, IFAs recruit, support and develop foster parents.  Since IFAs only focus on fostering, they are generally able to offer a more tailored package to foster parents.  As a therapeutic fostering agency, Mosaic Foster Care is able to offer even greater support to foster families.

Mosaic Foster Care’s Service Offer

  • Planned long-term placements only, with introductions beforehand every single time
  • Supervising social worker with protected caseloads of not more than 10 families including respite foster parents
  • Allocated therapist to every foster parent for clinical support and guidance
  • Local support groups facilitated by therapists
  • Face to face training, including advanced courses in behaviour management and therapeutic parenting for all staff and foster parents
  • Out of hours support staffed by support workers, social workers and management
  • Dedicated respite for all long-term foster parents plus additional supportive respite where needed
  • Support service providing support workers for children, youth clubs and holiday activities
  • Therapeutic assessment of all foster children to guide interventions and care
  • Minimum of quarterly safeguarding reviews of each child to ensure that everyone feels and is kept safe
  • Full participation of foster parents in all Mosaic meetings as recognised and respected members of the professional team.
  • Professional salary and child allowance that recognizes the specialist care being provided
  • Opportunities to develop and get involved in other aspects of the service including support, training and recruitment.

What Makes Us Ofsted Outstanding:

  • Significantly improved outcomes for children evidenced through therapeutic assessment, treatment and trauma recovery
  • Unparalleled support for children, carers and even external professionals such at teachers
  • Proactive safeguarding approach including live ongoing risk assessments, monitoring and action plans
  • Placement stability – e.g. no children went missing in 2018, majority of children permanently linked to their foster parents
  • Children report that they feel safe and happy and that they are a part of their foster family
  • Local authorities trust our service implicitly
  • We retain staff and carers, no staff leavers in last 2 years
  • We don’t compromise our model (ever)

If your question wasn't answered here, please contact our friendly team who will be more than happy to help.

Want to find out more about what makes us different?

Click on the button above to download our handy guide to fostering with Mosaic compared to with a local authority.