Deciding who to foster with, can feel like a daunting decision (almost as daunting as deciding to foster).
But with so many logos and websites saying they offer excellent support and training, how do you decide?
In this blog we will share 10 reasons to foster with your local authority. Real foster carers also share why local authority fostering was the best choice for them.
- Expertise in supporting foster carers
- Legal responsibility for the children in our care
- Together with the child’s social worker
- Community of local foster carers
- Staying local
- Support from local foster carers you know
- Flexible fostering options
- Matching and all ages of foster children
- Financial support to foster carers, but not for profit
- Be part of the change
expertise in supporting foster carers
When you foster with the local authority, you’ll have direct access to our many years of experience of fostering and our knowledge of the local area.
Members of your local Foster Wales team have been working in fostering for many years, they’ve experienced a wide range of families and situations and are familiar with the wider support available in your local area.
They often live locally too and understand you and the community around you.
“The fostering team have worked with a lot of the children and know their stories. They have a lot of knowledge.”Jenny, local authority foster carer, Flintshire
“I live and work in Gwynedd. Sometimes the families I worked with have needed their children to come into foster care at a very young age. By staying local, by keeping in touch, when the time was right, the children were able to return to mum’s care in a really positive way. I see them now in their late teens and 20’s in my community, thriving as a family. Mum is now a grandma too, fostering helps keep families together too.“Mel, social work manager, Gwynedd.
“You know people are going to be there, they know the area, they know the schools, they can advise you. They knew the children and they were able to talk about the local area.“Tim and Inger, local authority foster carers, Gwynedd
legal responsibility for the children in our care
We have legal responsibility for the children in our care.
So when you foster with the local authority, you’ll be fostering direct with the team who are involved in making plans for the child, their family and school.
From the first concerned phone call about a child, through the court process, to a positive outcome for the child – the local authority is involved in the full journey.
We know the child, their whole story.
“The people that we remember weren’t just doing the job, you could see that in their contact with us and the children. It’s a huge difference to work with people who have an investment in the local community and the children of the local community. They knew the children. One social worker had worked with them since they were little. She was their social worker for 5 years and that consistency makes such a difference.”Tim and Inger, local authority foster carers, Gwynedd
“There are children that I was involved with as their social worker, when they first came into foster care. They are still with those foster carers now, and I now support them via their supervising social worker.”Jo, social work manager Cardiff
together with the child’s social worker
Whether you foster with an agency or local authority – every child in foster care has their own local authority social worker.
So when you foster with the local authority – the child’s social worker, fostering social workers and foster carers are all part of the same organisation.
Often based in the same office, with the same computer systems and access to information – communication can be regular, conversations can happen over a coffee and up-to-date information can flow freely between everyone involved.
When children are in foster care, there are many different people involved in the child’s life;
- Support workers, arranging time with parents and family
- Reviewing officers, arranging children’s meetings
- Teachers, teaching assistants and looked-after children’s education co-ordinators
- Personal assistants for care leavers
- And many more
All of these roles and our foster carers are part of the local authority.
“We had the support of people in the local authority. From social workers to senior management. We had a whole team around us”Tim and Inger, local authority foster carers, Gwynedd
“The benefit of being able to have a shared base for communication with the child or young person’s social worker means we can move in a timely, responsive way. We can work collaboratively to address any issues that might be cropping up, in a planned or unplanned way. We can, with ease, arrange a quick teams call, office meeting or discussion to resolve issues working side by side.”Rebecca, Supervising Social Worker, Merthyr
community of local foster carers
There’s over 2700 local authority foster carers in Wales.
You won’t be on your own.
There’s a community of foster carers, in your local area, here for you.
When a new challenge comes your way, you can chat to another local foster carer who understands. And as a new foster carer, there’s experience on-tap to guide you.
From formal peer support groups to coffee catch-ups with other foster carers – foster carers can support each other.
You might find that friends and family don’t always understand your parenting style or the children’s behaviour. Another foster carer will “get it” without any explanation required.
Watch our video of a community of foster carers, supporting each other in Bala.
“it’s not just about social workers supporting you, it’s about other foster carers supporting you. Because you make friends within the community. Other people with different experience can advise you how to work with particular children because they’ve met similar children before.”Jenny, local authority foster carer, Flintshire
“A supportive network of local people who you can talk to, who are also carers with similar experiences, makes such a difference”Tim and Inger, local authority foster carers, Gwynedd
Staying local can often mean the world to foster children. When you foster with the local authority, children can remain within their community, close to friends they’ve made, family members they stay in touch with, communities they recognise and often stay at their current school. This can give children some stability, perhaps with a teacher they like and trust.
For you as a foster carer, this also means that car journeys (although the school run might still be a juggling act) will be within your county area. School, family time and meetings will all happen local to you.
“Staying local is important especially for older ones. Sometimes just a little bit of distance is a good thing. But their parents and siblings are still very important to them. They like to know they are not too far from home.”Jenny, local authority foster carer, Flintshire
support from local foster carers you know
We understand that fostering brings many challenges. And sometimes taking a break, or a little bit of support from another foster carer, can make all the difference.
We have part-time foster carers who can provide “respite” or short breaks.
You’ll get to know them.
They can get to know the children and become like an extended family.
“We still get to build lovely relationships with the children – particularly the ones we see regularly. Importantly, we are providing an opportunity for other foster carers to have a well earned break. And the break can be seen like a little holiday for the children”Christine and Mike, local authority foster carers, Vale of Glamorgan.
flexible fostering options
Fostering with the local authority is flexible. You can start by offering regular weekend visits and school holidays.
We’ll give you the confidence, that you can do this.
You might do lots of different types of fostering with us, over many years.
Fostering with the local authority also doesn’t mean giving up your current career and financial income – you can continue to work and foster.
Fostering can grow with you and your family. We will consider your own children’s ages when matching a child for you to care for.
matching and all ages of foster children
From babies to teens, fostering with the local authority can be all of these and more.
- Better with little-ones?
- Or maybe your days of running around after a toddler are long gone and prefer the independence of teens
- Want to support a young mum and baby?
- Prefer an age range to fit with your own children?
As the first port of call for all children needing foster care, we are more likely to have an age range and type of fostering to fit.
We will get to know you and your family. We match children to suit your skills, your lifestyle and your home. Because we know, when we get the matching right, fostering can be successful for you, your family and our children.
financial support to foster carers, but not for profit
When you foster with the local authority, we talk about the children first, not money.
We don’t exist for shareholders to make profits from our children. We are not a business. We won’t be bought or sold by another company, we’re here for the long term, here for you.
You’ll still receive financial support, and lots of useful discounts and offers.
You can read more about the financial support we offer in our blog: foster carer pay – the ultimate guide
be part of the change
Foster care in Wales is changing.
Welsh Government has pledged to eliminate profit from the future of children’s care. Local authorities are working together in Wales to share best practise and bring consistency to all local authority foster carers in Wales. We do that by listening to our foster carers and involving them in shaping the future.
For a better future, better outcomes for children and foster carers – have your voice heard. Be part of the solution and let’s make it better together.
“there’s lots we want to do, to make foster care better for our children and those who care for them. By listening to our foster carers, we can prioritise what’s important to them. As 22 local authorities working together as Foster Wales, we have the power to make it happen”Alastair Cope, Head of Foster Wales
so, what’s the difference between fostering with the local authority and a fostering agency?
The main difference between fostering with the local authority and a fostering agency is that local authorities generally have younger children (and all other ages too), foster carers receive financial support but there is no profit made, everyone is based within the same organisation and everything is local and convenient to you. Local authorities are legally responsible for the children, and our social workers often know families before children come into care and continue to support children when they return to family.
find your local authority fostering service
Get in touch with your local team.
Search our map of local authority fostering services in Wales.
Or click on your local authority logo.