I went thru an agency that a friend refereed me to get my foster license. I called our county's DHS (dept. of human resources) first and it ended up being easier to get licensed thru my agency (more flexible I guess) than thru DHS so we went with that. (that should have been my first clue that my agency may not be what it should be).
I have come to find that I don't know that I actually like this idea though. Basically, our agency is the middle man. All they do is deal with DHS for me, but I still have to deal with them so what is the difference between me talking to a worker at my agency (who can't make any decisions I might add) and me having to deal with a DHS worker (who CAN make decisions)? Hmmmm, maybe I just found the difference.
I have also found that I receive less money for the kids than people who are licensed directly through the state which I think is insane. I also have to keep track of some of the money which other people don't have to and I even have to give the family some of the money I get for the kids when they go home if I haven't used it. So, I get less and then on top of it I may have to give some it back. (which I did with Sabrina. I gave back around $350 which was her "personal needs" money that was left over-that is almost a whole months worth of money that they were giving me to care for her).
So, so far I am dealing directly with people that can't make any real decisions, (Such as when Lizzy's visits needed to be stopped and they "couldn't" do anything until I threw a HUGE fit and got everyone in front of a judge. The dhs worker, when i told them about the visits, told me that he had stopped visits over way less than what Lizzy was exhibiting) and they give me less money and require me to give some of it back even though I pay for every part of this child's existence except for her medical care.
I am sure there are other differences, but these are some of the "big" ones that have been grinding on me lately.