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Private Fostering - Frequently Asked Questions About Private Fostering

Either the child's parent or the private foster carer should tell Children's Services. In some circumstances, another adult with an interest in the child may tell us.

If you answer yes to all of the following statements then the arrangement is probably a Private Fostering one:

The child is under 16, or if disabled is under 18

The arrangement will be for 28 days or more or

The arrangement is for less than 28 days but is one of a series of days that all together add up to 28 days

The proposed carer is not a close relative of the child (for example is not a brother, aunt or grandparent)

If your child is already being cared for by a private foster carer or you are already privately fostering a child then you must tell Children's Services as soon as possible.

Children's Services will assess the suitability of the carers and other adults living within the home. They will carry out a CRB check and checks with other relevant agencies such as health and education.  They will also assess the suitability and safety of the property.

If Children's Services do not think a Private Fostering arrangement is suitable, they are empowered to stop it or make certain conditions.

As the child's parent, or someone with parental responsibility for the child, you have a duty to inform Children's Services of any Private Fostering arrangement relating to your child.  You should contact Children's Social Care for the area in which your child will live.

You will keep responsibility for your child and it is your responsibility to make sure that the planned Private Fostering placement is suitable for your child.  You should remain involved in making decisions relating to your child's needs.

You will also need to:

  • Inform the carer of your child's likes, dislikes, school, doctor, hobbies, religion, ethnicity, cultural background and any other needs

  • Make suitable financial provision for the care of your child

  • If possible, make a written agreement with the carer about the care of your child, including proposed length of time, financial arrangements, health and educational needs and what you would wish to be consulted on

  • Keep in frequent contact with your child

  • Check that your child is being well looked after

  • Inform Children's Services within 48 hours when your child leaves a Private Fostering carer, informing them of the name and address of the person who is now looking after the child

Your child's safety is important and by notifying Children's Services you will help keep your child safe.  You may think you know the person well who you want to look after your child.  However, Children's Services can ask for information from other agencies which you as a parent would be unable to obtain.

However, Children's Services can only carry out checks if we are aware of the arrangement so we need to be notified.

As a private foster carer you will be expected to notify Children's Services of the Private Fostering arrangement before it begins.  Additionally, you will be expected to:

  • Work with the parent to plan the child's care, including any financial arrangements, health and education and what the parent does or does not wish to be consulted about on a day-to-day basis.  A written agreement is best

  • Make sure the child is happy and healthy and that his or her needs are met

  • Work with Children's Services staff to discuss the child's care, to allow regular visits to your home and for the child to be seen alone

  • Agree to police and other statutory checks being undertaken
  • Inform Children's Services within 48 hours if the situation in your home changes and/or if the child goes to live with someone else or returns to live with a parent.

  • You must provide the name and address of the person who will be looking after the child

You will not have parental responsibility for the child as this will remain with the parent.

It is the responsibility of the parent to pay for the child's care and this is one of the things which should be sorted out before a child is privately fostered.

The person who receives child benefit for the child should let the Department of Work and Pensions know if the Private Fostering arrangement is to be for more than six weeks.

A child who is privately fostered is entitled to the same level of protection as any other child who is living away from home with another family.  Many children in this situation will have mixed feelings and will probably feel worried and insecure at times.  A child will receive:

       Regular visits to check on his or her well-being

       Checks that he or she is receiving suitable education and health registration

  • Help and advice about how to work with a child's parent to prepare for privately fostering a child

  • Help and advice about how to care for someone else's child

  • Information about possible financial support.  You may be entitled to social security benefits such as child benefit and possibly other financial help.  We can put you in contact your local Benefits Agency office

  • Access to training courses that Children's Services arranges for its own foster carers

  • Dependent on the child's needs we may be able to put you in contact with other agencies who can offer support

Help and advice about how to work with a carer before and after your child is privately fostered 

Advice and information about financial aspects of your child being privately fostered.  

If the arrangement is to last for more than six weeks the Department for Work and Pensions should be notified to ensure child benefit is paid to the correct person.

  • All children should be registered with a general practitioner (GP) and that includes children who are privately fostered.  If the child has moved into a different area and needs to be registered with a different GP then this should happen as soon as possible.

  • If a child is of an age to attend school then he or she should be registered at a school and attend.  If he or she has moved into a different area to be privately fostered then he or she may need to attend a different school.  If this is the case then he or she should be registered as soon as possible.  Discussions about school should be held in good time so that there is less likelihood of any break in school attendance.

  • Staff from Health and Education, including GPs, nurses and teachers, should encourage parents to notify Children's Services if they become aware that a child is privately fostered.  If they have any doubt that such notification has been given they should themselves inform Children's Services.

You can contact one of the main Children's Services offices or call 03332 40 1727.

When contacting us by telephone or by visiting one of our Children's Services offices you need to give details of:

  • The child's details:  Name, current address, sex, date and place of birth, religion, racial origin, cultural and linguistic background

  • The name and address of the child's parents, those with parental responsibility and anyone else who has been involved in making the Private Fostering arrangement

  • The name and address of the proposed foster carers and their addresses over the past 5 years

  • The reason for and proposed length of the proposed Private Fostering arrangement

  • The Date the fostering arrangement is to begin or where it began

 

A parent keeps parental responsibility for his or her child when a Private Fostering arrangement is made.  This means that the parent will have overall responsibility for the child and must be involved in making all important decisions affecting the child.  A written agreement between parent and carer is best

 
It is a parent's responsibility to make suitable arrangements and to ensure that the child is happy and being looked after well.  Regular contact should be maintained between parent and child 
It is important to plan very carefully before a Private Fostering arrangement starts.  This will mean giving the carer enough information about the child - his or her likes and dislikes, hobbies, friends, school and health


It is a parent's responsibility to financially support their child when he or she is privately fostered 
Arrangements for a change of doctor and school, if necessary, will need to be made although it is usually better if practicable for a child to remain at the same school

 
You should keep Children's Services informed of  where you are living

Any child living away from home is vulnerable and so visits which focus on the child's well being can help to safeguard him or her 


A child who is privately fostered should be looked after as well as any other child who, for example, lives with foster parents who are approved by the Local Authority 


Children's Services can access information (with the carer's permission) which would not be made available to parents.  So, even though a parent may feel satisfied, the law puts in place certain checks to protect the child

 
Don't risk the safety of your child - notify Children's Services of any Private Fostering arrangement

Call Children's Services on 03332 40 1727 and tell them that you are privately fostering a child and wasn't to let Children's Services know about it.

Have as much information as you can to hand so that you can tell them over the phone e.g. name and address of parent, name and age of child and your name and address.

A social worker will visit a child within 7 days of receiving notification of a Private Fostering arrangement.  This is so that Children's Services can assess whether or not the arrangement is suitable.

 
The social worker can help to advise on making the arrangement in the best interests of the child, including making sure that education and health needs are met and that there is ongoing frequent contact with family members .  He or she can advise on a written agreement.

 
He or she will check that the property is suitable and safe and, with the carer's permission, arrange for checks on the adults living within the home to be made (everyone aged over 16)
A social worker will make regular visits to the child and carer to check on the child's well being and to offer support and advice.

 
The social worker will also offer advice to the parent
There may be financial help available such as Child Benefit and the social worker will be able to provide details of the local Benefits Agency office.

 
The social worker will be able to provide details of training available to a private foster carer


If Children's Services feel that a Private Fostering arrangement is unsuitable they can take action to stop it.  They can also ask for certain requirements to be met before a placement goes ahead. Carers can appeal to a Court if they are unhappy with such actions.

Someone from the Family Support Team will make contact with the parent or carer and then a social worker will be in touch to discuss what will happen next and arrange a visit if appropriate.