What is 'Private Fostering'?
A ‘Privately Fostered’ child is a child under the age of 16 (18 if disabled) who is cared for and accommodated by someone other than a parent or for more 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.
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, immediately after the child or young person becomes privately fostered
- You must notify the local authority of any changes in your own circumstances whilst you are caring for the child or young person.
- 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.
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
Local Authority responsibilities
The local authority is responsible for keeping local children and young people safe. Therefore, the local authority 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.
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 the local authority, or encourage the carers or parents involved to do so, as soon as possible.