Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fostering through the State versus a Private Agency

I received an e-mail from a woman in Texas who asked the following question:

   What are the pro's and con's of fostering through the state vs. a private agency?

I am fostering through my state so I'm not the best candidate to answer that question.  But I'm sure one of YOU somewhere out there might have the experience of fostering through a private agency.  In that case, please share your knowledge with the rest of us by LEAVING A COMMENT.  Thanks. 

On a related note, I don't have a formspring, but if anyone out there has any other burning questions that you're dying to ask, please don't hesitate!  


jendoop said...

Mamafoster asked this question a few days ago. This is the answer I gave her:
We LOVE our agency!!

I dealt with the county before we were officially foster parents, we did a kinship type emergency placement for 4 children from our church. The county worker didn't return my calls and it was a fiasco. I have a friend who is a supervisor in juvenile probation so I asked for his help. Only then did I get a return call and it was because she wanted to know who I called to get her in trouble and why.

With our agency we get a call back the same day. Every worker we have interacted with has been friendly and understanding. A worker even came to the ER when my little guy bit through his lip. He did all the paperwork for me too!

The biggest problem with an agency that I see is that it creates another layer of hassle - I'm still confused over some issues in my foster son's history because my case worker hasn't gotten that info from the county worker.

Oh, one more huge thing- my agency worker applied for and got a higher payment bracket for us. It had to be done within a certain amount of time after initial placement (10 days?). Being a new foster parent I didn't know that and I didn't know what qualified a child to be bumped to that next bracket. With all the driving I do I'm so grateful for a little extra money to cover gas.

I think overall it depends on the quality of the agency, which varies. The foster podcast has one episode specifically about choosing an agency. I chose by who returned my calls promptly and genuinely seemed helpful and interested in us. It was a good indicator of how we would be treated later.

Denver Laura said...

Depends on the location. In Colorado, you go through the county, not on a state level. That means you will only get a child from one location. A private agency will work with multiple counties and have a larger pool of kids and families to work from. The county will place kids with their resources first, then hand them over to the private agencies. If you are very particular on the type of child you want, a private agency will probably have a better chance of finding them. They are also mroe likely to work with you as you are paying for their services.

Lynn said...

We're in Texas and fostering through an agency. If I had to sum up our experience thus far - this is how it looks:

All people (CPS, lawyers, judges, agency workers, therapists, etc.) involved are looking out for the best interests of the children. (At least you hope they are!) However, our agency is there for US too! I can get a hold of a SW at our agency 24 hours a day. (No joke - I've got the oncall number programed on speed dial in my phone.) I've not had that kind of luck with DHS. The workers there have gigantic case loads and are difficult to reach.

I've been thrilled to have the added support an agency brings. And, for what it's worth, I highly recommend the Bair Foundation.

Maggie said...

We foster through an agency - our state is privatized so there is no choice. I think in most states it is either one way or the other.

We have loved our experience. I have worked in a state where foster care was strictly run by the state, and I can tell you that the overall results for the children and for the foster parents is much better through a privatized program. But that's just one experience!

MamaFoster said...

I have been annoyed with my agency so I am not one to ask, BUT I have a girlfriend who had done both and she said working with an agency is WAY better for lots of the reasons these ladies have already listed.

Anonymous said...

Lynn--Thanks for your comment! We've got the Bair Foundation here in El Paso too. We're going to go with them based on your recommendation :) Thanks everyone!

Katrina said...

We went through a non-profit agency in California called Angels and I wish that every state and county had an agency like them. They definitely look out for the best interest of the child but also help the foster parent too. Sometimes the county worker did not cooperate with our Angels worker because it was just another layer of work for her so I was fortunate to build a relationship with her too.

In California a county social worker can have a very heavy case load so I think they appreciate it when an agency is involved as well because it is one more person looking out for the child.

I really appreciated that Angels had someone for us to talk to when our child started doing weekend visits. The county treats you like you shouldn't have any feelings about what the state thinks is best.

So my vote is go with an agency if someone can recommend a good one in your area.