Private fostering is where parents make arrangements with someone outside of their close family to look after their child for them for 28 days or longer
Many private fostering arrangements remain hidden and private foster children have been identified as a potentially vulnerable group.
Many professionals who work with children and young people in the city will come across private fostering situations. Private foster carers and the parents of private foster children have a legal duty to notify the local authority about these arrangements, but this duty is not widely known, and they are rarely reported.
It is vital that children’s social care is made aware of such arrangements so that they can safeguard the welfare of potentially vulnerable children.
What is private fostering?
Private fostering is an arrangement by which a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled):
• does not live with a parent (or step parent),
• is cared for by an adult who is not a close relative (in this context a close relative is a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, including both full and half relations and relations by marriage),
• is in a private arrangement made by the parent and the carer ,
• is being cared for by a carer in a different home which lasts, or is intended to last, for a continuous period of 28 days or more.
Some examples of private fostering include:
• A teenager moves in with a friend’s family because of a breakdown in relationships at home, or parents move out of the area.
• A child is left with the unmarried partner of his/her parent because of the imprisonment of the parent.
• Host families looking after children at language schools or boarding schools during the summer holidays, where this is longer than 28 days.
What can other professionals do to help?
Education, health and social care professionals are often the first to become aware of private fostering arrangements. If you know or suspect that a child is being privately fostered, you should notify Children’s Services and inform the carer or parent of the referral.
If you have any concerns about a child’s welfare, you should notify the local children’s social care immediately. All enquiries and referrals, including Private Fostering notifications are to be made to CASS team on 0121 303 1888
For an information leaflet - click here.