Private Fostering Week 2018

Private Fostering Week runs from Monday 9 July – Friday 13 July 2018 and is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of private fostering arrangements, the duty to report to the local authority, and the support that these families can be provided.

Privately fostered children and young people are particularly vulnerable as the arrangements for their care are often made at a time when the family is under acute stress. This could be as a result of poverty, ill health, family disruption or breakdown or any number of factors. Sometimes parents do not agree with their child staying with someone else and may believe their child to be at risk. It is vital that arrangements for privately fostered children are assessed to ensure their suitability and that the welfare of privately fostered children is actively monitored and promoted.

 

What is Private Fostering? 

Private fostering is when a child or young person under the age of 16 (or 18 if they have a disability) is being cared for by someone who is not their parent or close relative for 28 days or more. Close relatives include parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and step-parents.

It is not private fostering:

  • If the carer is the child’s legal parent
  • If the carer has parental responsibility
  • If the carer is an approved foster carer and the arrangement was made by social services
  • If the arrangement lasts for less than 28 days

Some examples of private fostering situations include:

  • A teenager living with friends or in the home of a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Younger children placed with friends of the family on a long-term basis following family breakdown or parent’s ill health
  • Overseas students who are living with a carer for over 28 days
  • Children in boarding schools who live with another family during school holidays
  • Children needing to be cared for because their parent(s) work away from home

 

The law in relation to private fostering
The law says that the Local Authority must be told about all private fostering situations. The child’s parent(s), private foster carer(s) or anyone else involved in the arrangement are legally required to inform children’s services.

Birth parents and private foster carers are required by law to notify the local authority of the arrangements in place within six weeks of the start of the child joining their private foster carer.

 

How to notify the Local Authority

If you think you know a child who is being privately fostered please contact the Front Door for Families on 01273 290400 or at FrontDoorForFamilies@brighton-hove.gcsx.gov.uk 

If you think a child is at risk of harm and need to make contact outside of office hours, call the emergency duty team on 01273 335905 or contact the police.

For more general advice or information about private fostering please contact the Front Door For Families. 

 

Help and support for families using private foster care arrangements

Once the Local Authority has been notified of a private fostering arrangement they will:

  • Visit the private foster home and make an assessment of the safety and suitability of the arrangement
  • Take up medical, criminal record and referee checks on any adult living in the home
  • Ensure birth parents are kept informed and continue to be involved in decision making for their child
  • Monitor the welfare of the child and continue to assess the suitability of the private fostering arrangement
  • Offer support, advice and training opportunities to private foster carers

In cases where the local authority do not agree with a private fostering arrangement they have the power to disqualify a person from privately fostering.

 

More information