The law states that a private fostering arrangement is:
o Anyone caring for somebody else’s child who is not a close relative of the child. A close relative is a guardian, grandparent, uncle, aunty, brother, sister or step-relative.
o Where the arrangement is expected to last more than 28 days.
o Where the child or young person is under the age of 16, or 18 if the young person has a disability.
The Council needs to know about children and young people in these types of arrangements as they are potentially vulnerable as they are not living with their parents.
The law around private fostering was strengthened following the Victoria Climbié Inquiry Report. Victoria Climbié was a child who was abused and murdered after being placed with her father’s great aunt. This arrangement would by definition have been considered
as private fostering. The change in the law was important as it puts stronger safeguards in place for the child.
Private fostering is significantly under reported. Out of the estimated 10,000 children in private fostering arrangements, local authorities know of about 2,000. The Council needs to assess and identify any support these children may need to keep them safe
Action people should take includes:
Parents and carers must let the Council know if they are setting up a private fostering arrangement.
Teachers, health and other professionals must contact the Council about a private fostering arrangement that comes to their attention if they don’t think the arrangement has been or will be reported.
Members of the public should contact the Council if they are aware or suspect that a child is living in a private fostering arrangement that hasn’t been reported to the Council.
Private foster carers must contact the Council so that essential welfare checks can take place to make sure that the child or young person receives the right support.
To report a private fostering arrangement contact Children's Initial Contact Point at Sir Henry Mitchell House on 01274 437500. The contact point will be able to advise private foster cares, parents and professionals of what they need to do, give further information
and answer any queries about private fostering.
Coun Ralph Berry, Executive Member for Health and Social Care, said: "People can sometimes look after a child or young person without realising they have a legal duty to contact the Council and let us know.
"Everyone needs to know what private fostering means and what they need to do if they become aware that a child is being privately fostered. It’s all about making sure that the child or young person is safe and their needs are being met.”
More information is available online in the Children’s Social Care section of the Council’s website.