Fostering agencies and local authorities

What is the difference between fostering agencies and local authorities?

Local authorities

Local authorities (councils) are legally responsible for the safeguarding and outcomes of all children in the care system, who are sometimes known as looked after children.

Independent fostering agencies

FCA is an independent fostering agency (IFA) and we work very closely with local authorities to find suitable foster carers for children within their care when they are unable to place a child with one of their own approved foster parents.

This could be because they have a shortage of registered foster parents or because the child has particularly complex needs, which at FCA we are specially equipped to deal with.

We have a strong infrastructure in each region across the country to support local authorities and have a team of specialists to support our foster carers and looked after children, this ranges from general advice and guidance to activities and events for children, young people and fostering families to support groups.

Four key differences between local authorities and fostering agencies

Although we work alongside the local authorities, there are four key differences between fostering with your local authority and fostering with independent fostering agencies like FCA:

  1. Fostering allowances with FCA and other private fostering agencies are often significantly higher than those of local authorities.
  2. Levels of support vary wildly between local authorities and private fostering agencies, with local authorities not offering the same level of support. Here at FCA, we have unrivalled support and training package, designed with our foster parents in mind.
  3. In 2002, we created our Team Parenting® model, a unique approach where a regional and national network of childcare experts may work with each child or young person to look after every single area of their well-being.
  4. The age of the children needing fostering through private agencies is generally higher than those available with local authorities. This is because older children are more difficult for local authorities to place.

FCA are not just a fostering agency but a community of people that share a common objective and support one another to overcome and celebrate achievements.

FCA foster parent

Frequently asked questions

What type of company is FCA?

Established in 1994, Foster Care Associates (FCA) is proud to be one of the largest fostering agencies in the UK.  We are part of the Polaris community and our core vision is to make a positive and lasting difference for looked after children and families.  With the interests of children and young people at the heart of everything we do, we work closely with local authorities to provide caring, loving and stable fostering homes, but we always go the extra mile for our foster parents and children.

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What types of children need fostering?

There are a host of reasons why they need foster care. It may be because of a family illness, family breakdown and problems at home, or a situation where their welfare is threatened. Many will have experienced neglect and physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

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Will foster children have difficult behaviour?

While their stories will be different, every child will have faced loss and separation from their birth family.

Their life experiences can cause children and young people in care to express their feelings through difficult and challenging behaviour. Some may throw tantrums, be aggressive or reject your care. Others may be withdrawn, clingy and act younger than their years. Just as every foster parent is different so are children and behaviour will differ from child to child.

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More FAQs

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Find out the answers here.

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Get in touch

Whether you’re ready to start your journey or just want to chat, contact our fostering team today and we'll answer all your questions.



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Four key differences between local authorities and fostering agencies

Although we work alongside the local authorities, there are four key differences between fostering with your local authority and fostering with independent fostering agencies like FCA:

  • The age of the children needing fostering through private agencies is generally higher than those available with local authorities. This is because older children are more difficult for local authorities to place.
  • Foster carer allowances with FCA and other private fostering agencies are often significantly higher than those of local authorities.
  • Levels of support vary wildly between local authorities and private fostering agencies, with local authorities not offering the same level of support. Here at FCA, we have unrivalled support and training package, designed with our foster carers in mind. We have a team of social and support workers, therapists and educational support workers, and also offer great respite opportunities.
  • We offer a therapeutic approach that provides looked after children with the additional, intensive support they need to thrive. In 2002, we created our Team Parenting® model of foster care, which focuses on the foster carer’s ability to effect change for children and young people by offering safe, stable and therapeutic foster placements. We provide our carers with ongoing access to therapists and therapeutic training programmes that provide them with the skills and knowledge they need to help children thrive