Information about Private Fostering
Private Fostering is used as a form of childcare by parents who are not able to take care of their child on a day to day basis, for whatever reason.
A Private Fostering arrangement is one that is made privately between two parties without the involvement of the Local Authority for a child under the age of 16 (18 if disabled). This arrangement would be with someone who is not a parent or close relative, and is due to last 28 days or more.
The Children Act (1989) defines a close relative as a grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle (whether by birth, adoption or marriage), or a step-parent - none of these would be classed as private foster carers.
Examples of Private Fostering Arrangements could include:
- Children attending language schools who are placed with agency recruited host families;
- Children sent from abroad to improve their life chances, and placed with friends or distant relatives;
- Children who are estranged from their families who go to live, or are placed, with friends or distant relatives;
- Children whose parents are full-time students, or working unsocial hours, placed with agency recruited host families.
What to do if you are involved in or know about a private fostering arrangement
The Law requires that the Local Authority should be informed at least six weeks in advance of a Private Fostering arrangement or 48 hours after the arrangement has been made if in an emergency.
If such an arrangement had already commenced, but the Local Authority has not been informed, there will not be a penalty if we are notified as soon as the parents, the private foster carer, member of the public or other professional realise that this is a legal requirement.
Once we have been informed of a Private Fostering arrangement we will
- Check the suitability of the Private Foster Carers through checks and assessment;
- Make regular visits to the child and monitor the standard of care; and
- Ensure that Private Foster Carers and birth families have all the necessary information and advice they require.
Once an arrangement has ended we must know within 48 hours of an arrangement ending.
If you think you are in a Private Fostering arrangement, or know anyone who may be, please contact us. Alternatively, complete the downloadable Notification of Placement form found in the related downloads section on the right of this page.
Please see the leaflet 'Going to live with people who are not close family' in our related downloads section.
Last updated: 20th September 2012
Southend Adoption & Fostering Service
Tel: 01702 212938