Are you fostering for an independent fostering agency but live in Somerset?

We know that many people become foster carers with independent fostering agencies (IFA’s) without fully considering all the options.

Whilst they are a useful part of the overall fostering ‘market’ there are many reasons why you should seriously consider making the switch to foster for Somerset County Council (SCC).

1. The children we place are ‘our’ children.

We have a commitment to ensuring we provide sufficient good foster homes for each of them according to their care plan. An Independent Fostering Network survey in 2015, revealed that children placed with local authorities were placed on average 11 miles from their birth family home. Children placed with IFA’s were on average placed at least twice as far away. We want to keep children close to their homes, with carers that we know and can support wherever possible.

Brothers Brandon and Josh who have been fostered for seven years


2. We are a ‘not for profit’ fostering service.

Every single penny of (your) taxpayer’s money is spent on delivering a good service to Somerset children and/or foster carers. Many years ago, most IFA’s were also ‘not for profit’ but nowadays almost all are limited companies who have to produce a profit for their shareholders. The chief executive of one of the few remaining charitable fostering agencies summed up the impact of this change:

“Any money leaving the system is not being spent directly on vulnerable children. Therefore, all dividends, bonuses etc. are being paid directly from taxpayers’ money allocated to be spent on children in care. The private sector is not driving down cost through competition, it is not driving up quality and it is taking significant sums of taxpayers’ money. Where is the benefit to the taxpayer or to children in care?” (Andy Elvins, Chief executive of TACT)

3. Beware the small print

IFA’s may appear to offer a good deal to foster carers, promoted through eye-catching adverts with substantial headline payments being offered. The problem for carers, is that whilst the payments may be good when you have a placement, they fall to nothing when your placement moves on. Our specialist schemes offer payments commensurate with the rates paid by IFA’s when allowances and fees are combined. We pay all your fostering-related mileage (not just once you have paid for the first 50 or 100 miles) AND we pay retainer fees between placements for specialist schemes, so you will have a regular income whilst you are a registered foster carer.

4. Ask our foster carers

All our foster carers, after approval, will receive not just the child age-linked allowance but also a fee, which for experienced carers can rise to more than £200 per week per child. Many foster carers who have transferred to us from IFA’s have been surprised to find that they are financially better off with us.

“I used to foster for a private company, but switched
to fostering with Somerset County Council
as they are not-for-profit. It was honestly the best thing I’ve ever done! I still get a similar fee and allowance but have the benefit of great support and training. Plus, the peace of mind that
money is being spent on the children rather than making a profit for shareholders.” Foster Carer, Eve Ford

For details on our weekly fees and allowances click here


5. Training and Support

We know that finance, whilst important, is not everything. We provide excellent training, support and social groups – including regular social activities for birth children of foster carers and a welcoming community, where new carers can receive support from a foster care ‘buddy’.

6. What’s involved when I switch?

We know that being assessed as a foster carer is an onerous process and the thought of going through another assessment is understandably not particularly attractive. We, like most responsible IFA’s strive to protect the welfare of children while allowing carers the freedom to switch. We will obtain from your existing agency a copy of your ‘form F’ which we will need to update along with several checks. However, we will only update sufficiently to satisfy ourselves and our foster panel of your suitability and strengths. We will always invite you to attend our skills to foster course should you wish. But, provided you have completed the course and kept your training updated, we would not insist on attendance. In short, we would aim to complete any transfer in three months, during which time you will continue to be approved by your existing agency.

Talk to us informally any time.

Whoever you foster for, we want to thank you and encourage you to continue to foster given the national shortage of foster carers, but we would encourage you to consider whether you should switch- and cut out the middleman- given the excellent fostering offer we now have available.

Our dedicated Fostering in Somerset officers are available Monday to Thursday, 8.00am- 5.30pm (Fridays 8.30-4.30) to answer any questions or contact them by clicking here. You can also request a call back any time convenient to you out of hours.

We look forward to meeting you!

Trevor Goss – Fostering Team Manager, Somerset County Council