Many people find themselves looking after someone else’s child without realising that they may be involved in Private Fostering.
Private Fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is looked after, by someone other than someone with parental responsibility or a close relative, for 28 days or more.
People become involved in Private Fostering for all kinds of reasons, some examples of Private Fostering include:
- Children and young people (particularly teenagers) who are unable to live with their parents, therefore stay with a friend’s parents
- Children from overseas who come to this country to study at local schools
- Students at language schools (for 28 days or more)
- Children from overseas on cultural exchanges or holidays in this country
- Children whose parents have moved from the area, who then choose to stay with a friend’s family so they can continue their education
Parents of a child who is being cared for by someone else, or those caring for the child have a duty to notify their local authority in order that they can check that the young person is being properly cared for and that the arrangement is satisfactory.
- What is Private Fostering?
- Information for parents
- Information for Private Foster Carers
- What other organisations need to know
- Why Must Children’s Services Be Informed?
- What will we do?
- What should you do next?
Private fostering is when a child or young person under age 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled) is looked after by someone who isn’t a close relative for 28 days or more. It isn’t private fostering if the arrangement was made by Children’s Services or if the person looking after the child is an approved foster carer.
People become Private Foster Carers for all kinds of reasons. They may be a friend of the child’s parents, or a person willing to care for the child of a family they don’t know. Some examples of private fostering:
- Children, adolescents and teenagers living apart from their families
- Minority ethnic children with parents working or studying in the UK
- Children with parents overseas
- Children living with host families for a variety of reasons
You need to tell us if you are thinking of placing your child with a private foster carer. Tell us at least 6 weeks before the arrangement is due to start, or straight away if the placement has already started. We will offer advice and help you to make the best arrangement for your child. It is your responsibility to ensure that the proposed private fostering placement is suitable for your child but we will need to carry out checks on the private foster carer and their family members to ensure that they are meeting your child’s needs.
You need to give the carer as much information as possible about your child, including their health requirements, eating preferences, school, hobbies, religion and ethnic or cultural backgrounds. This will help the carer to understand your child and take better care of them.
You don’t give up your parental rights just because you have placed your child with private foster carers. You remain the person with parental responsibility and you should continue to be involved in all decisions concerning your child’s development. It is very important that you remain in frequent contact with your child.
If you are thinking of looking after someone else’s child, you should contact us before the child arrives. Tell us at least 6 weeks before they arrive, or straight away if they have already arrived.
The law requires us to make sure the child will be safe and the arrangement is in their best interests. We will need to assess you and your family members. This assessment will include:
- Criminal Records Bureau and health checks on you and all members of your household aged 16 and over.
- Checks on your accommodation to make sure it is suitable and safe
- Making sure you have all the information you need to care for the child
- Regular visits to the child when they are living with you
This assessment will only relate to a particular arrangement. It won’t be an assessment of your general suitability as a private foster carer.
While you are looking after someone else’s child, you may be entitled to Child Benefit or other benefits. Contact the Benefits Service for advice.
If you come across private fostering
If you work in the health service, schools, housing, or in other public sector or professional jobs, you have a duty to tell us if you encounter private fostering arrangements which you think we may not know about. This is covered in Torbay Multi-Agency Information Sharing Protocol & Working Practice Agreements User Guide. You should let the parents or carers know you are notifying us but not if you think this will put the child at risk.
If you work at a language school, you need to let us know if you are arranging for a young person who is under 16 to be looked after by a ‘host family’ for a period of 28 days or more.
If you are acting as a ‘host family’ for a language school, you must let us know if you are planning to take a young person under age 16 for 28 days or more, as this will be classed as Private Fostering. We will need to assess you (see above) and visit the young person on a regular basis, to check on their welfare.
By law, Torbay Council’s Children’s Services Department must be informed about all Private Fostering arrangements within Torbay. The child’s parent(s), private foster carer and anyone else involved in the arrangement are all legally required to notify us, either at least 6 weeks before a proposed arrangement is due to begin or immediately if the arrangement has already started.
We will work in partnership with the child, their parents and the private foster carer, to ensure that the arrangements are safe and legal and right for the child. We will assess the private foster carer and members of their household, and check on the suitability of their accommodation. When the private fostering is agreed, we will visit the child regularly.
We may require changes or things to be done differently. We’ll do this if it’s best for the child but carers can appeal to a magistrates’ court if they think we are wrong. It we think a private fostering arrangement isn’t suitable, we can stop it.
If you want to notify us about a private fostering arrangement then please contact us, or to find out more about private fostering you can download our Private Fostering leaflet (see Related Documents).
Please remember that if you are involved in a private fostering arrangement and you don’t notify us, you are committing an offence and could risk a fine.
All documents open in a new window. Need more help with documents? View the Document Help page.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tel: 01803 208100