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 Cheshire, by a very long way.
As the Local Authority, we undertake the assessments around when a child should come into care. Our social workers know all our children well, and, in many cases, have been working with them and their families for a number of years. When the decision is made that a child does need to come into our care, we would always look to place a child locally, within their home community with our own Local Authority foster carers. This is because we also know our carers well too, 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. For many children and young people, it can be particularly important for them to remain at their own schools, as this is often the most stable part of their lives. 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, local carers also means that our children and their families benefit from being able to continue to access their local support services – such as schools, nurseries, GPs and emotional health and wellbeing services. Children benefit from the strong relationships between their social worker and their foster carer’s supervising social worker, with them often being co-located in the same building. This can be invaluable in ensuring things are done as efficiently as possible for our children and young people, their families and for you as carers.
When we are unable to place a child with our own carers, we are often able to approach other organisations, usually Independent Fostering Agencies, though our local networks, to find a suitable carer. We may need to do this because we do not have a family available at that time, or because due to their circumstances, we may need to find a family further away from the child’s local area. It is also often the case that the children we aren’t able to find local families for are over the age of 10 and have the most challenging needs. In these circumstances we work with the IFAs to make sure that all the child’s identifying needs can be met. Where this is a short-term measure, and in the child’s best interests, we would continue to search for a local family to provide longer-term care.
Our foster carers are our biggest advocates and those who either have experience of IFAs, or have recently become foster carers, explain their reasons for joining us:
‘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
‘We were already caring for children from our home authority, and began to really see the value of keeping local children close to where they are from. We could see just how much enabling them to stay at their current schools, close to their friends, family and everything else they knew was helping them during such a turbulent time. We decided that this was the kind of care we wanted to provide. We already had a great relationship with the social worker from the Local Authority, so opened up conversations with her and she put us in touch with the recruitment team.’
‘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…’
Sam and Jo, Nantwich
‘As a single foster carer, I decided to foster with my LA as I’d heard from a friend, who was also a foster carer, that the support was second-to-none. The local 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.
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 2018, 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. We were able to do this again in 2019, with an even better offer. 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. Contact the team to find out more.
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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!