'Making the decision to pursue a career in fostering is one that takes a lot of thought. Once you’ve decided to enquire about the role, the next step is finding the agency that’s right for you.
So, what are the top things to consider when looking at agencies?
1) Which agencies are clear about the support they offer?
Ask about the support different agencies or local authorities offer. How long have the staff team been in place? Is the agency happy to provide you with current foster carer contact details so you can get a direct overview of life at the agency first-hand?
Team Fostering ensures that foster carers are supported by local staff, with very low staff turnover and with 'out of hours’ workers getting to know all foster carers so that even when your designated worker is unavailable, you will be able to speak with somebody that knows you and your family. In our recruitment process we offer you contact details of some of our current foster carers, so you can gain an honest overview of the support at Team directly from them. You can read more about our support, fees and benefits here.
2) Read Ofsted reports
Most fostering providers will share their Ofsted reports on their websites. If they don’t, you will be able to locate reports yourself on Ofsted’s website using their search function. Read reports in detail, recognise the positive comments and consider how Ofsted perceive the agency as a whole, what partnership authorities have said about staff and how foster carers report on life with the agency. Top tip: double check that Ofsted reports shared on agencies' websites are their most recent reports! You can do this by looking at Ofsted's website.
Team Fostering was rated Oustanding (North East November 2018) and Good (Yorkshire and East Midlands March 2018), and our Ofsted reports are available to read on our website here. We’re very proud of them, and we encourage you to read them if you’re considering our agency. Our carers, staff, partners and, most importantly, children and young people share honest views about the service and these are something that we are delighted with.
3) Check out social media pages
Current foster carers likely follow their agency’s social media accounts and blogs. Does it seem like the agency operates with a true sense of community? Have its current foster carers left comments on posts? Are pictures of staff and carers visible?
4) Get clued up on reading between the lines
Are agency websites upfront about the types of fostering on offer? Do they explain fees and allowances in a clear way and is it easy to find exactly what you're looking for without an exhaustive list of vague statements and promises?
Our fees and allowances are available on our website and we have an entire page dedicated to the types of children and young people we work with (click here to view). We are regularly adding to our website to ensure that all prospective foster carers are provided with a transparent overview of the agency. New pages currently being worked on include ‘The History of Team Fostering,’ 'Our Relationship with Local Authorities' and 'A Day in the Life of a Foster Carer'. We have a live chat facility where you can ask any questions that you can't find the answer to, and in these instances we will be sure to enhance the website for the future so that others can see this information clearly.
5) Consider how important it is to you that the agency operates in an ethical way
Many prospective carers might not know that some agencies operate for-profit and some that operate as not-for-profit organisations, some as charities and some as local authority fostering services.
Before I worked in fostering I assumed all fostering services were not-for-profit, so it's important to 'do your homework' and work out what type of organisation feels right for you. Working at Team Fostering is particularly rewarding for me because the agency is a truly ethical, not-for-profit one that invests surplus funds into putting children’s futures first. Our staff and foster carers value this ethical approach to fostering immensely, and I’m proud to be part of an agency like ours. Not-for-profit agencies are able to offer similar fees, support and training as for-profit agencies, often with additional opportunities made possible by the reinvestment of funds! Read more about our support by clicking here.
6) What is your gut instinct telling you?
You’ll know within minutes of looking at a website, a social media channel or an article whether you think an agency is putting children’s futures first and whether it's somewhere that impresses you and engages you.
Speak with agencies on the phone and consider the way their staff speak to you. Are they quick at answering your queries? Are they polite? Fostering is an amazing role and it’s important that, if you start a fostering journey, you do it with an agency that you’d like to call home with an organisation that takes the time to welcome your enquiry and answer any questions that you have.'
Team Fostering is an independent, not-for-profit fostering agency operating across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands.
You can enquire with us about becoming a foster carer in the following ways:
- Complete our online enquiry form here
- Call our Recruitment Administrator, Sam, on 0800 292 2003
- Email us via email@example.com