Fostering with local authority vs independent agency


When you’re deciding if foster care is the right path for you, one of the main considerations you’ll come across is whether you foster with a local authority or an independent agency. But what’s the difference? Our guide explains all.

What is a local authority in foster care?

A local authority is a local council in the area and/or region. In the sense of foster care, local authorities are responsible for the outcomes and safeguarding of all children in the foster care system.

When a child is taken into care, local authorities will look to place this child with ‘in house’ carers first – meaning that if you choose to foster with a local authority, you’re likely to receive placements regularly and quickly. These are also more likely to be younger children and babies.

However, although placements may be quicker, they are likely to be more localised – as independent foster agencies typically cover a much wider  area.

What is an independent fostering agency?

Traditionally, independent fostering agencies did not exist – their role was taken on solely by local authorities. However, when local authorities began to reach maximum capacity, and realised there was a demand that could not be met for children in care, the need for independent foster agencies to support the foster care system increased.

Independent agencies work alongside local authorities to provide foster care to young people or children in need of a secure and loving environment – ensuring safeguarding is the biggest priority. Learn more about the role of an independent foster agency from our helpful guide.

Which should I choose?

Although both independent fostering agencies and local authorities have key differences, having different approaches and processes, both ensure the safety and well-being of the child in care is always at the forefront.

With that in mind, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing whether to foster with a local authority or a private fostering agency. However, some of the main benefits of fostering with an independent agency include:

Benefits of fostering with a private agency

  • Fostering allowance – typically when you foster with an independent agency, the rate of pay is likely to be larger than what you’d expect from a local authority.
  • Training and support – Independent agencies typically have more time and resources, which means there is often more focus on specialist support and fostering training for foster parents. This varies across providers and local authorities so it’s worth researching what’s available in your area.
  • Age of placements – local authorities are usually more likely to provide placements for young children and babies, whereas independent foster agencies tend to have children in the care system who are slightly older.
  • Location – there’s likely to be more opportunities for placements while fostering with an independent agency, as they typically cover a wider area than a local authority would.

Find out more about the benefits of fostering with an independent agency from our detailed guide.

For more information on independent foster agencies, get in touch with our friendly team today.

Thinking of fostering?

If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
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