Private fostering is very different from other forms of fostering as it is private arrangement which is agreed informally between members of the public.
Private fostering covers all children and young people under the age of 16 (18 if they have disabilities) who live with someone who is not a relative for longer than 28 days. It does not include children and young people who are Looked After by the local authority and cared for by approved foster carers.
Examples of private fostering
There are a wide range of reasons why private fostering takes place. For example:
- “My daughter’s friend is having some problems at home so she’s staying with us for a few months”
- “Our son’s girlfriend has moved in with us”
- “We rent our spare room out to language students”
Your responsibilities as a private foster carer
Many people privately foster without being aware of their responsibilities. These are as follows:
- You must notify the local authority at least six weeks in advance, or in the case of emergency placements, within 48 hours of the child or young person arriving.
- You must also notify the local authority when a child or young person leaves your care, letting us know why they have left and the name and address of the person they are moving on to.
You can contact us by calling 0800 052 0078 or by emailing [email protected]
Your responsibilities as a parent
- If you are the parent of someone who is privately fostered you must:
- Continue to participate appropriately in key decisions about your child
- Provide the person who is caring for your child with as much information about him/her as possible. For example, their health records, school records and dietary requirements
- Ensure that the local authority has been informed of the arrangement
The local authority is responsible for keeping local children and young people safe. Therefore, we must do the following:
- Check on the suitability of private foster carers and ensure a good standard of care
- Make regular visits to offer support to both the child and the private foster carer
- Ensure that advice it made available when needed
A specially trained social worker will undertake an assessment of the private foster care arrangements and offer any support available.
If we feel there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child or young person is at risk of harm we will remove them from the private fostering placement.
What should other professionals do?
In order to help us safeguard the welfare of potentially vulnerable children we ask all professionals working with children and young people to ensure they are aware of private fostering. We also ask professionals to help us by informing carers and parents involved in private fostering arrangements of their responsibilities.
If you are aware of any private fostering arrangements please inform us, or encourage the carers or parents involved to do so, as soon as possible.
Support for private foster carers
There may be financial support available for Private Foster Carers through Section 17 of the Children Act which provides assistance to children in need.
Private foster carers can also access local support networks, including foster carer support groups run by the local authority
Private foster carers may be able to claim a range of benefits including child benefit and working tax credits. Your local Benefits Agency Office can provide more information.
For more information please call 0800 052 0078 or email [email protected]