Fostering is an incredible, home-based, flexible and self-employed role that uses your skills with children. Each Local Authority has slightly different rewards, benefits and allowance payment structures. Request an information pack to find out more about the all the brilliant ways your Local Authority will support you in your area.
Together, we recruit and support more foster carers than any other organisation in our region, by a very long way.
As your Local Authority, we make the decisions about when a child should come into care. Our social workers have, in many cases, been working with a child(ren) or young people and their families for some time and know them well. When the decision is made that they need to be accommodated into our care to keep them safe, we always try to use our own foster carers to look after them. This is because we also know them well too, we trust that they can provide the right care and know that they will be able to keep a child living in their own home town, or very close by, which can be hugely important for a child’s wellbeing. This can also help to give a child the best possible chances of returning home, or to other family members, where it is in their best interests, when problems are resolved.
Placing children with our own carers also means that we can keep everything ‘in-house’, making communication for the child, their foster carer and the services supporting them, such as education, health and the police as streamlined as possible. In most of our Local Authorities, these services are all based in the same building, which can be invaluable in ensuring things are done as efficiently as possible for our children and young people.
When we haven’t got a suitable carer of our own available, we approach other organisations, usually Independent Fostering Agencies to see if they can offer a suitable foster carer to care for the child. Although sometimes we rely on IFAs, particularly if we have a child who needs to be placed further away from home, or they have specifically challenging needs for example; most of the time we approach them with great reluctance. It is usually only a short-term measure, and wherever possible and in the child’s best interest, we will continue to work to find a carer of our own to provide longer-term care for them.
We are usually able to place younger children with our in-house carers and we only place children under the age of 10 with agency carers in exceptional circumstances. So foster carers who are registered with IFAs usually care for our children aged 10+, and often those with the most challenging needs.
We’re seeing significantly increasing numbers of IFA carers transferring over to us, and our foster carers are of course our biggest advocates! Those who have recently transferred tell us they did so for a number of reasons. Some of the most common include:
‘To be honest, I was sick of spending hours in traffic, we were caring for children from miles away. It was no good for the children and no good for us either. Now we’re with our LA, we only care for children who go to school within a few miles of our home. It makes life much more enjoyable for everyone- nobody wants to spend half their day on the M62, especially not a 7 year old!’ Jackie and Fred, Orford, Warrington
‘When we were with our agency, the placements were few and far between. Now we do more of what we love, which is caring for children, and aren’t sat around waiting for the phone to ring. When we were with our agency, when it did ring, we would accept the placement only to have the agency ring us back a few hours later only to say we weren’t needed after all as the LA had found an in-house carer. It was so disheartening.’ Sam and Jo, Nantwich
‘When we signed up with the agency we were promised the world. In reality, it was all very glossily packaged, but all the training took place 1.5 hours away and that was where our out of hours service was based too. Not very practical or reassuring as children don’t just need care from 9-5!’ Claire and Ian, Runcorn, Halton.
‘As a single foster carer, I transferred to the LA as I’d heard from a friend, who was also a foster carer, that the support was second-to-none. The coffee mornings and mentoring scheme have been a godsend to me. A few of us now have a WhatsApp group and I know I can contact them for advice or ideas at any time.’ Sally, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire West and Chester.
‘I’d been caring for a little boy with complex disabilities for some time, and became aware of the amount of money my Local Authority were paying my agency for his placement. Which quite frankly horrified me. Of course, most of this was profit for the agency, which didn’t sit well with me at all. I thought this would be much better spent on other council services. So I contacted my LA and started the ball rolling about transferring. They matched my allowances and I’ve never looked back. I still care for the same little boy and the transition was only a positive one for us both.’ Sylvia, Warrington
In addition to the above, there’s a huge range of other benefits to being a registered foster carer with your Local Authority including:
Our allowances are very competitive and reflect how highly we value our carers. There are always opportunities to progress even further as your skills develop and we have a number of different schemes.
Our training is of exceptionally high quality, and led by experienced professionals in a number of fields. The courses we offer have been refined throughout the years. There’s always something you can get involved with, dependant on your areas of interest or the needs of the children you are caring for, in addition to the statutory training.
As above, one of the biggest benefits of being a Local Authority Foster carer is the access to our partner services. Our links with schools, health, police, housing and other services are unparalleled.
We provide mileage payments for school, contact and other journeys. IFAs do not usually provide these payments.
We provide all of the equipment you will need to comfortably care for a child, including beds, bedroom furniture, car seats, prams and safety equipment. IFAs usually do not provide this.
Our services are based within your Local Authority, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our support lines are staffed by our experienced social workers, based close to your home.
We offer a huge range of support groups including coffee mornings, sons and daughters groups, award ceremonies and celebration events. In May, we held our first collaborative retention activity, successfully securing £24,000 worth of family tickets to the renowned Geronimo Festival at Arley Hall. Hundreds of fostering families enjoyed an amazing, complementary day out, and the feedback we had was outstanding. There’s always something to get involved with if you wish to!
Foster4’s new refer a friend scheme means that you get rewarded for helping even more children. Word of mouth is our best recruitment tool.
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Find us on Facebook @foster4cheshire. We’ve got a dedicated page just for you. We’re always posting events, info and ideas, it’s a great tool for both promoting our service and letting our carers know about the latest developments. So give us a follow!