Leaflets and documents
Private Fostering is when a child under the age of 16, or 18 if disabled, is living with someone who is not:
• A parent
• A close relative
• Someone who has parental responsibility
Under these arrangements, the law defines a close relative as a child’s brother or sister, grandparent, step-parent, aunt and uncle. An aunt or uncle must be the sister or brother of one of the child’s parents.
Private foster carers may be extended family such as a cousin or great aunt, a friend of the family or parents of a child’s boyfriend or girlfriend. They could also be someone unknown to the family who is willing to privately foster a child.
These arrangements have to last for a total of 28 days or more. It does not matter if the carer is paid or provides care for free – it is still regarded as private fostering.
• Private fostering is not arranged or paid for by the Local Authority
• It requires parental consent. If parents do not agree to it, then the Local Authority will still assess the situation
• It is used by parents to make arrangements for the care of their children, often for a fixed period of time because of work commitments or because they are living abroad although there may also be other reasons
• Private fostering includes arrangements made by independent or language school for a child under 16 or 18 if disabled, to live with a host family for more than 28 days
Parents and carers must inform Bath & North East Somerset Council Children’s Services of this arrangement not earlier than 13 weeks or later than 6 weeks before it begins. If it is or was an emergency placement or you were unaware that this law existed then inform Children’s Services straight away.
Parents and carers must inform Bath & North East Somerset Council Children’s Social Care of this arrangement not earlier than 13 weeks or later than 6 weeks before it begins. If it is an emergency placement you must inform the Children’s Social Care within 48 hours of the arrangement beginning.
Although it is a private arrangement between parents and carers, Children’s Social Care have certain responsibilities under the Children Act 1989/2004 to ensure that children who are privately fostered are given adequate care and with respect to their specific and cultural needs
Asking someone to look after your child does not rule out your parental responsibility. Your confidence in your chosen carers will be supported by Children’s Services who will complete an assessment of the private arrangement
A social worker will visit carers to assess the arrangement to ensure that they are able to meet the needs of the child, and this will include a Criminal Records Check. The assessment will be considered at a fostering panel, where the private fostering arrangements will be agreed or not. If Children’s Social Care feel that a placement is unsuitable they can place requirements on the carer about the placements or take action to stop the private fostering arrangement.
If you are thinking about privately fostering a child, you should contact Bath & North East Somerset Council Children’s Services before he or she arrives. A social worker will need to visit you and the other people who live in your home. We will need to consider that you are able to meet the specific needs of the child. All members of your family (or others) living in your home 16 years and over will need to have a police records check.
We will also need to speak to the child to ensure that the arrangements are suitable for her or him. Carers should also seek permission from the parents to access emergency medical treatment; this must be confirmed in writing.
The private arrangement should ensure that parents and carers have considered the child’s specific and cultural needs. If Children’s Services considers the arrangement unsuitable, then we can place requirements on the carer through support and training. We can take action to stop a private fostering arrangement, if there is evidence that the child may be at risk of harm.
When the arrangement has been agreed as suitable, a representative of Children’s Services will make regular visits to meet the child, to give him or her opportunity to talk about matters important to them, to ensure that the arrangement is working for them. Private foster carers are responsible for carrying out any duties agreed with the parents. It is encouraged that a written agreement be made between parents and carers. The child’s parents retain parental responsibility, and should provide a financial allowance to enable the carers to support their child. Children’s Services will offer ongoing advice and support to carers as and when this is considered necessary or requested.
Carers must also let Children’s Services know when the child leaves their care, stating why and giving the name and address of the person into whose care the child has moved.
Parents remain responsible for the child’s welfare including financial support throughout the duration of the arrangement. Private fostering arrangements are usually temporary. Parents should give as much information to the carers as possible about their child to assist in the changes of his or her routines. This should include details about family culture and language, the child’s health, education and diet, as well as details of when and how often you will be seeing your child. So that your child’s education and healthcare are not disrupted, they should stay at the same school and have the same doctor if this is possible.
You should also include information on how the carer can contact you. This should be put in writing so that the arrangements remain clear and open. Children’s Services can help you to draw up a written agreement.
Parents must give written agreement to the carer to allow them to sign a medical consent form in case of an emergency.
The social worker’s role is to make sure your child is safe and that their needs are being met in the right way for them, while they are living away from you. This means making sure that their racial, cultural, and religious needs are being met and that the accommodation and sleeping arrangements are suitable. The social worker will talk to your child about his/her feelings and wishes about being privately fostered.
How often will they visit?
The social worker will visit your child at the private foster carer’s home every 6 weeks for the first year, and every three months after that, for as long as they stay with the same carer. The social worker will talk to other people who live in the same house and they will usually see your child on their own. Every time the social worker visits, they will write a report. One of the things the social worker will ask about on every visit is how long the arrangement is going on for. This is so the plan remains focused on meeting the needs of your child. Any changes in your circumstances or the child’s, private foster carers can be planned for. If your plans change, you must let the social worker know as soon as possible.
What else can the social worker do?
The social worker will support the private foster carer to give the best possible care for your child and will offer advice and training to the private foster carers. They can give you advice and support so that you can make other arrangements for the care of your child if private fostering is not the right arrangement for your child. We can take action to stop a Private Fostering arrangement if there is evidence that the child may be at risk.
For more information or to notify us about a private fostering arrangement, please contact the Permanence Team on 01225 396334
Or Write to:
Permanence Team- Private Fostering,
Bath and North East Somerset Council,
Remember, Bath and North East Somerset Private Fostering Service is here to help. We do not want to disrupt the arrangements that you have made. We need to know about the arrangement so we can check that child/children are safe and being properly cared for. We also want to make sure that you are getting the support you need.
This information can be made available in other languages or formats (including large print, Braille, on CD) on request.