Sunday, 30 November 2014

Changing fostering agencies

We're thinking about moving house to be nearer to our extended family for support. As foster carers this can be a complicated business! We foster for our local authority, and their rules state that foster carers can live in our home county or any one of the neighbouring counties. This sounds good in principle, however whenever possible children must be placed within easy distance of their birth parents to make regular contact arrangements viable and to enable them to remain at their current school/nursery. In our local authority the majority of looked after children come from one end of the county and the majority of foster carers live at the other end which is already an issue. Would we get any placements if we moved out of county? It's a risk.

If we decide to change fostering agencies there are further complications - do we simply switch to the local authority of our new county or do we choose an independent fostering agency? There are positives and negatives to both, and there can be huge differences in finances, training and support even between two similar agencies.

Then there's the switching process which requires a new assessment and a new "Form F". Sometimes there is a fast tracking option which means we'd be assessed whilst still fostering for our current agency, and would just select a transfer date once approved. Some agencies don't allow this - they require a 6-8 month period without placements whilst the new assessment is completed, which of course would mean no income for us. Some agencies will negotiate foster carers being allowed to "keep" their current foster children when they transfer, and some won't. We've also considered using our experiences with Peter and Belle so far and becoming specialised carers in a disability fostering agency.

Of course we have Peter to consider too. We wouldn't consider him leaving us now so whatever we do the new agency will have to accept that!

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