What is private fostering?
Private fostering is an arrangement made for a child 16 or under, or under 18 if a child is disabled, to be cared for by someone other than a close relative. It describes arrangement for child care made privately between the child's parents and a carer of their choice. A child is considered to be in private foster care if he or she is completely cared for by someone who is not directly related, or is not a legal guardian, for a total of 4 weeks (28 days) or more. These arrangements are acceptable providing the specific guidelines are followed.
Sefton Council's Statement of Purpose (Private Fostering) outlines the duties and functions of the Local Authority in relation to Private Fostering arrangements.
What situations can be classed as private fostering?
- Children sent to this country for education or health care by birth parents that live overseas.
- Children living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home.
- Teenagers living with a family of a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Children whose parents’ study or work involves unsociable hours, which make it difficult for them to use ordinary day care or after school care.
What the law says
Your child is privately fostered - if she/he is under 16 years of age (18 years of age if the child is disabled), and is living with someone who is not a close relative, e.g. a grandparent, aunt or step parent, for longer than 28 days.
You must inform Children’s Social Care:
- as soon as possible after making an arrangement for your child to live with a private foster carer,
- within 48 hours, if the arrangement is made in an emergency,
- when the arrangement ends.
If you are caring for someone else's child but were unaware of this requirement, please contact Sefton Children's Social Care Tel. 0345 140 0845.
If you are a parent whose child is privately fostered you are still responsible for:
- your child’s overall welfare – whilst the day to day care lies with the private foster carer, you still have parental responsibility.
- Important decisions like consent for medical treatment, what school your child attends, and any changes in where they live.
- Financial support.
- Keeping Children’s Services informed of your whereabouts.
Children’s Social care must:
- Make an assessment of the needs of the child, and consider whether there is any help that should be provided.
- Check that private fostering carers are suitable people to care for children, and that the accommodation where children will be cared for is adequate.
- Decide whether the private fostering arrangements are satisfactory and can go ahead.
- Visit children who are privately fostered to ensure their needs are met, and they are being properly looked after.
To find out more, view Sefton LSCB's procedure for Private Fostering (Section 22)
Sefton Council have produced powerpoint slides to support agencies in raising awareness of Private Fostering arrangements, click here to download a copy of the powerpoint slides.
Sefton LSCB has produced the following leaflets in relation to Private Fostering:
Private Fostering - Leaflet for Carers
Private Fostering - Leaflet for Parents
Private Fostering - Leaflet for Professionals
Private Fostering - Leaflet for Young People