Becoming a foster parent is a major decision and you should step in with great conviction and determination. The journey itself comes with big challenges, from going through the training and legal implications of the process to preparing your family for accepting the child, aligning your professional responsibilities with the new role, and making the child comfortable in your home. The biggest challenge for a foster carer is to know from where to start and what really matters is to join hands with a right foster agency to facilitate the placement. Here are a few tips that can help you in finding one.
Understand your options first
When you start searching for an agency, it is best to look for the ones in your local area. This gives you the advantage of feasible distance during the pre-placement phase and after the placement as well. Consider your options in terms of specialism as well; there are agencies that deal with short-term care, long-term care or emergency foster care. The best way to start looking is to browse their websites and know them better to shortlist ones that you deem fit for your requirements.
Know how they work
Further, there are independent agencies and local authority foster care departments that work differently. Local authority services work as a part of the social worker department of the local area and choose and train their foster carers. Independent agencies, on the other hand, arrange placement for the children that the local authorities are not able to place. According to the Perpetual Fostering website, local authorities tend to be limited with their resources, while fostering agencies typically aren’t. This allows for fostering agencies to specialize their placements, as well as fine-tune their training and vetting processes.
Have the right questions to ask
Once you explore the options and understand the way these agencies work, you should be read with a list of questions to clarify your doubts. Here are the ones that you would want to ask:
- How big is your foster care agency?
- What is your placement process?
- What is the number of staff members and foster carers you work with?
- Do you provide specialized training to the foster carers?
- What are your norms related to fostering allowance?
- What if need to take a break from fostering?
Further, you may go on to ask any specific questions that you would want them to answer before deciding if the agency is right for you.
Talk to fellow foster carers
Having all your doubts clear, you will probably be ready to go ahead. But it is advisable to talk to fellow foster carers already working with the same agency to get a fair idea about their process. Talking to seasoned foster parents also helps to understand what to expect from the agency that you choose. It is best to collaborate with an agency that aligns with your situation and needs to have a smooth fostering experience.
Choosing a foster care agency is a matter of right fit and this goes both ways. Both the agency and the prospective parent should be comfortable working together towards the common goal of giving the child good care.