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Should i foster for a local authority of independent agency?

Is It Better to Foster with Local Authority or Agency?

Please note: As a fostering agency ourselves, Greater London Fostering (GLF) might be a bit biased in this discussion. However, we'll strive to provide a balanced comparison for those considering fostering.

It's a popular question – should one foster with a local authority (LA) or an independent fostering agency (IFA)? Both options have their unique advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice ultimately depends on your individual needs and preferences.

Training and Support

In-house training schedules offered by LAs and IFAs can differ significantly. When you're comparing these organizations, it's crucial to consider factors such as:

  • The quality of support provided
  • How efficiently they handle initial inquiries
  • Whether the same social worker assists foster carers throughout the process

As a rule of thumb, LAs usually offer a higher continuity of placements. On the other hand, an IFA may cover a wider geographic area, requiring foster carers to travel further for meetings and school runs. Yet, specialized IFAs may cater to children with challenging behavior or special needs, which could be a perfect match for some foster carers.

Advantage: Varies (depends on individual needs and preferences)

Financial Allowances

Historically, LAs would prioritize their in-house foster carers when assigning children. Although this trend is changing, LAs can still offer more consistent placements, ensuring foster carers receive steady financial allowances. However, IFAs tend to provide higher pay rates, as observed in Greater London Fostering's best-paid fostering agencies page.

"The level of support – especially practical - is often higher with an agency than an LA. They have a better ratio of supervising social workers to foster carers so one is usually available to step in, if necessary, in an emergency and offer hands-on support."

Advantage: IFAs


Fostering agencies like Greater London Fostering exclusively focus on fostering, whereas LAs handle other aspects of social care as well. Consequently, this specialization allows IFAs to provide a higher level of expertise, resources, and support that you might not find in an LA.

Advantage: IFAs


When considering whether to foster with a local authority or an agency, keep in mind that quality varies among both LAs and IFAs. It's crucial to be proactive and assess your options by:

  1. Asking relevant questions and attending introductory sessions.
  2. Weighing the factors that matter the most to you (e.g., training and support, financial allowance, travel distance, and specialization).

Carefully evaluating your options and finding the best match can help ensure a smoother and more fulfilling fostering experience for both you and the child in need.

Download Our Guide To Fostering

We've create a free PDF guide to fostering, to help you understand a bit more about foster care, and the process of applying.

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