Becoming a foster care provider can be a lot easier and more rewarding commitment than most of us expect. There can be a few hiccups along the way to becoming one though, as well as a few after you register with a fostering agency near you. The good news is that these can be avoided for the most part if you know some basic information regarding what to expect, and the options available.

Speaking of options in fostering, there are quite a few to choose from, and we will discuss them below.

Choosing between the LA and the IFAs

Local Authority or LA refers to the local government body overseeing all aspects of child protection, adoption, and fostering. IFAs are independent fostering agencies which deal exclusively with foster care. Aspiring foster care providers can enjoy a few more benefits by joining an independent agency, rather than signing up with the local authority in charge of foster care.

While there is a good deal of variability here, private fostering agencies do pay a higher allowance on average than local authorities. However, the biggest advantage of signing up with an IFA is that they will teach, train, and guide you on how to become a foster parent. As well as this, the quality and the number of training courses offered by independent fostering agencies are on a comparatively higher level.

Choosing between Short-Term and Long-Term Foster Care

Most new foster care providers start out as short-term care providers because that is generally the advisable route to take in foster care. However, it should be noted that long-term foster care is not to be seen as a path of progression for a foster carer. It’s a different kind of care that largely depends on the specific circumstances.

You may remain a short-term foster carer for as long as you work in the foster care system, or you may choose to foster long-term after just a few months of experience. For better context, here is a comparison between long-term and short-term foster care.

Long-Term Foster Care — This is when you take care of the same child or children, until the time they reach adulthood.

Short-Term Foster Care — You will take care of many different children throughout your time with the foster care system. Each stay may last from just one night to a few months, depending on the children’s needs.

Should You be Wary of Emergency Foster Care as a New Care Provider?

In direct contrast to what the term emergency foster care may convey to someone who is new to this, emergency foster care simply needs the care provider to provide children with a safe shelter on short notice. The notice can be as short as just a few hours, so you must always have a spare room ready and prepared for the children who might need them for a few nights.

Different types of foster care will require slightly different training. For example, you will need special qualifications and training if you plan to provide respite and specialist therapeutic foster care, once you’ve gained some experience.

Hopefully, the above has given you a good idea of what to expect when you sign up as a foster carer.