How To Choose A Foster Agency

Deciding which foster agency to choose can be hard.

There are so many factors to consider. Charlotte is currently waiting to become a foster carer for Progress and spoke to us about the process she went through in deciding which foster agency to choose.

What is your day job?

I am an assistant headteacher in a mainstream secondary school, with responsibility for special educational needs and disability, known  as SEND, along with inclusion. My primary role is to help young people with the curriculum, putting in place the appropriate provision to meet their needs. 

How long have you thought about fostering? 

In the last two years, it’s been something I’ve seriously considered. But I’ve thought about fostering, on and off, for many years.

Why now?

It came from a conversation I had with friends who already foster. I did have some reservations, but they answered all my questions and gave me a rounded view of what life is really like as a foster carer. This really helped. So, I took a deep breath and contacted Progress.

Why choose a private fostering agency and not a local authority? 

It wasn’t a conscious choice to go with a private agency as opposed to a local authority. However, because of Progress’ experience, I knew I would be in a safe pair of hands.

So, you were recommended to Progress by an existing foster carer?

Yes. I have close friends who have experience of other agencies and now foster with Progress. They gave me positive feedack and recommended I get in touch. I trust their judgement that this agency is excellent.

How have you found the process with Progress? 

I was initially filled with trepidation because you do have an uneasy feeling of not knowing what you’re letting yourself for. I may work with children, but this process is way out of my comfort zone. However, the process so far has been positive.

From the first telephone conversation to the initial visit, references, checks, meeting my assessing social worker, ‘skills to foster’ training and now preparing for the panel, everything has been clear and transparent. Because I feel supported by the Progress fostering team, I now have the confidence to embark on this fostering journey with the help and advice of the team every step of the way. 

Inspired to become a foster carer? Click here to learn how you too can change a child’s life. If you would like to talk to us, email, and we will be happy to help.



Working for Progress: Adam’s story

It was 7am on a cold January morning in 2012 when Adam arrived for his first day as a support worker. He stepped inside what looked like any other house, to a new career and a new life. Within minutes he was answering questions from curious teenagers, finding his way amongst young people whizzing around in wheelchairs and others getting ready for their day.

Adam was working in a short breaks home, helping young people with a range of learning and physical disabilities.

He had worked with young people before and had been a sports coach. But this time he didn’t know what to expect. ‘It was a learning curve straight away,’ he recalls. He set to work helping the young people, preparing packed lunches and taking a couple of young people in wheelchairs to Sandwell Valley for a trip that afternoon.

That evening Adam didn’t know how long he would stay. But Adam is still with Progress now. ‘I enjoyed working with young people, building relationships with them and wanting to see them grow’ he says. ‘Seeing their progress makes it so rewarding. ’

Adam moved on to become a senior support worker, a coordinator then deputy manager in the Hub, before eventually moving into his current role within the Business Development team. Although his work now has more of a corporate and commercial focus, the purpose is still the same; ensuring the best outcomes for young people.

‘It has been quite a quick progression really,’ he says. Along the way he received ongoing training and has a Level 3 NVQ in Health and Social Care and a level 4 NVQ in Leadership and Management. He has completed a range of training; from safety and medication through to project management.

His career with Progress has had many special moments, like the day he took a teenager in a wheelchair to his first ever football match. The young man loved watching football on television and so Adam took him on a train to a West Bromwich Albion match. ‘He loved it,’ Adam recalls. ‘He still remembers it every time I see him now, years later.’

Then there was the summer he organised for 16 young people to go on holiday to the seaside. They went swimming and to theme parks. ‘All the young people loved their time away,’ he says.

He has been involved in setting up activity groups in the community, everything from arts and crafts to dance, drama and sport. He was also involved in starting a young club for older teenagers.

Adam, now 30, describes himself as a caring person who enjoys what he does. Outside of work he likes football and is a devoted dad who enjoys spending time with his family, including his young daughter.

His advice for anyone thinking about working for Progress is: ‘Come and try it even if you have never done this type of work before.  Give it a go. Meet our young people and you probably won’t want to leave.’

Would you like to work for Progress? Click here and apply through our website today



Supporting Young People

We want to be able to share with your the amazing things Progress carers experience in their job every day.

Mark is a Progress carer and has been supporting Jay for nearly three years.

This is his story:

Jay is very high on the spectrum of autism and has minimal vocabulary.

Despite this, Jay’s Mum really wanted her son to take part in activities that benefited not only him but also the wider community.

I did some research and found a program that was looking for volunteers to help maintain and preserve parks in the West Midlands.

It was with much anticipation that we arrived on the first day alongside the other volunteers. Jay was delighted to see so many people he was going to be part of a team with. Something was said on the first day that stayed with me.

The person running the program suggested that Jay being in the park alongside other people, may not work. However, he was willing to allow Jay to stick around. When you hear things like this, it saddens you. I knew that Jay would show that he is more than capable of participating despite all his disabilities – after all, we are all able by our abilities.

Volunteering brought out so much in Jay, it’s incredible. He’s making friends, working hard and giving back to the community, which is what he and his Mum wanted.

Sadly, it was during this period that his Dad passed away. Being such a strong person, Jay carried on working even though it must have been difficult for him. He also had the added pressure of this being the first year since he finished school.

The moral of the story is that nothing is impossible. Jay has achieved great things despite others saying he wouldn’t. Whenever I see him working, I always look on in amazement to what he has achieved.

I feel so proud to support Jay and have no doubt in my mind that he will carry on achieving a lot more throughout his adult life.

What does foster care mean?

To foster care you provide a family life for children who are unable to live with their own parents.

Across the UK, foster carers open their hearts and homes to children in need of love, care and attention. Sara has been a long time foster carer for Progress and spoke to us about what foster care means for her.

Foster care isn’t like raising your own children no matter what anyone tries to convince you. Your own children haven’t felt themselves lost into a world they hadn’t created or asked for. A world they aren’t to blame for.

This was the world my foster son couldn’t trust, from the moment he moved in he was scared every time he left the house. Scared he would be moving again, scared he wouldn’t be coming home.

It took time, understanding and a whole load of patience to build his trust. Most of the time, we would go out of the home, to one place then back. Just building the reassurance that yes, he would be coming home.

A visit to the shops then home.

A visit to relatives then home.

School then home.

No detours, just home.

This took time, in fact this took months but I never forget the day when after eating lunch out I asked if he wanted to go home and he signed later. He then asked if we could visit with family. I double checked, I tripled checked but he still replied later.

It may not seem a lot but in that moment, I knew he trusted us. He trusted in us and he felt safe. I didn’t let him see the emotion in me but I promise I could have cried.

Being a foster carer involves many different things but one of the most important to me is making sure a child feels safe and secure and trusts in me as a carer.

This was that moment and I remember it like yesterday.

“Home later, but home”

Want to to become a foster carer? Click here to learn how you too can change a child’s life. 

Q&A: Why foster care?

Lola is currently going through an assessment to become foster carer. Having been through the process before, we spoke to her about her experiences and the big question: why foster care?

What is your day job?

I currently work as a senior social work assistant in a ‘Child in Care’ team in the West Midlands.  As part of my position, I support a group of social workers by arranging contact for looked-after children and their families.

How long have you been fostering?

I first became a foster carer 20 years ago for a private company and went on to foster 14 children from ages 1 to 16. I loved having young people in my home and supporting them in the best way I could. I always try to offer support that helps young people to eventually live independently and become responsible adults.

From budgeting, cooking and cleaning, to CV writing, it gave me a lot of personal satisfaction seeing young people gain life skills.

You took a break from fostering. Why?

Fostering had been my only focus and when my last young person left in 2013, it was time for a change.

I wanted to achieve other things, but the active nature of being a foster carer had not given me that. However, this was always going to be a break and not an end to fostering. I enjoyed bringing positive change to the lives of children and young people too much to stop.

What made you want to foster again?

During my break, I moved home, travelled and spent time with family and friends. Reflecting on this period and having had enough rest, I am in a place now where I can once again commit myself to giving a child unconditional support.

Why did you choose Progress?

Once I decided to return to fostering, I wanted to join an agency where I knew what they stood for and had values much like my own.

In 2005, I had worked for Progress as a social work assistant. I liked their focus on improving a child’s self-esteem, helping them gain valuable life skills and ensuring that each child achieves their full potential.

The staff and carers were friendly and approachable and they were as passionate about wanting to enhance a child’s life as myself.  So, when it came to approaching an agency, they were my first choice.

At Progress, there is a sense of commitment to the carers and children and a unity that is hard to come by. I have the emotional security and support needed to do my job well.

How has the process changed from the last time you applied?

The difference between when I first became a carer to now is time. For example, 20 years ago, the whole process took about 9 months.

Having a good relationship with an agency is important. In my previous experiences as a foster carer, there was no relationship building or set routine for the assessor to visit me. It felt like I was fitting into their schedule. I would have no idea how I was progressing in the evaluation and was never invited to panel or my yearly appraisal.

Today, the process is much shorter. There is better continuity of visits and the assessor and I have sat together regularly to complete assessments.

How have Progress helped you during the process?

So far, I have found working with Progress to be swift, stress-free and engaging. Although I have my assessor, I also know I can talk to any team member as and when I require it.

I think it’s vital that foster carers and the agency have effective communication because this ensures that children will benefit the most. Because Progress has already made me feel like part of the team and have always kept me updated to my status, I’m confident that working with them will improve my skills as a foster carer.

How do you feel about the future?

I am really looking forward to returning to fostering. It is a rewarding career and seeing young people laying the foundations for their futures gives me a lot of joy.

Do you feel you too could become a foster carer?

Click here if you want to change a childs’ life