Private fostering is when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is living with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more. This might be a friend, a great aunt, a cousin or someone else known to the child.
As a parent, what do I need to know about private fostering?
Even though this is a private arrangement, the law says the local authority must ensure your child is safe and well cared for.
If you are thinking of placing your child in a private fostering arrangement, you must tell the local authority at least 6 weeks beforehand or in case of an emergency placement, within 48 hours of the placement beginning.
If the arrangement has already started, you must contact Rochdale Borough Council immediately.
What is private fostering?
A private fostering arrangement is one where children under the age of 16 or 18 in the case of disabled children, are cared for and provided with accommodation in the carer’s own home, by a carer who is not their parent or a close relative, does not have parental responsibility for a period of 28 days or more (Children Act, 1989). This includes:
- Children and young people who stay away from their family for a period of 28 days or more for summer or language schools.
- A private foster carer becomes responsible for day to day care which promotes the safety and welfare of the fostered child. However, overarching responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of a privately fostered child remains with the parent or person with parental responsibility.
What private fostering isn't
- When a child is Looked After by the Local Authority.
- When a child lives with someone who isn’t their parent, but the person they live with has been granted parental responsibility.
- When a child lives with a close relative (as defined by the Children Act, 1989). This includes a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of full or half blood or by affinity (marriage) or civil partnership), or step parent.
What do I need to do if I become aware of a child living in a Private Fostering arrangement or a situation where it is planned for a child to move into a Private Fostering arrangement?
Follow Tri X Pan Manchester Safeguarding procedures which are accessed via Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board website www.rbscb.org
There is a legal obligation to inform Children’s Services of the arrangement. Children’s Services are then required to satisfy themselves that these arrangements are safe and meet the needs of the child.
Consent from involved parties is not required; however they should be advised that you will be making the notification. Within Rochdale, this would be via contacting the Complex Early Help and Safeguarding hub, Tel: 0800 303 0440.
Who is classed as a close relative?
The Children Act, 1989 defines a close relative as a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of full or half blood or by affinity (marriage) or civil partnership), or step parent.
What if I am unsure whether this is a Private Fostering arrangement?
Contact the Complex Early Help and Safeguarding hub, Tel: 0800 303 0440 for further advice.
For more information on private fostering visit "Somebody Else's Child" website (Related links)