Private Fostering Week runs from 21 to 25 September 2020 and will highlight the importance of notifying the local authority about private fostering arrangements. The local authority has a duty to assess and ensure the safety and well-being of the children in these arrangements which are often not reported.
Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 years old or under 18 if they have a disability, is cared for by someone who is not their birth parent, person with parental responsibility or a “close relative” – step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts. Any other family member, family friend, parent of the child’s friend, or a host family would be a private fostering arrangement, including agencies caring for a child while they study in the UK either from the UK or abroad.
The arrangement is made between a parent or person with parental responsibility and a carer, with the intention that it lasts for 28 days or more. It is not private fostering if the arrangement was made by a social worker or if the person looking after the child is an approved foster carer.
These arrangements may be; teenagers living with a friend or family of their boyfriend or girlfriend, children on a holiday exchange or sent to the U.K. for education or health care by their parents or children with another family due to their parent’s work or study commitments or relationship breakdown.
The Private Foster carers are responsible for safeguarding the children and their day to day care. Financial responsibility remains with the children’s parents or person with parental responsibility. Children in private fostering arrangements are deemed to be a Child in Need and will be supported as such.
Any person involved in making arrangements or aware of a private fostering arrangement, must notify the First Response Team in Staffordshire on 0800 13 13 126 immediately. Following this a referral will be made to the Safeguarding Unit for an assessment who will refer to Family and Friends for their assessment to be completed within 42 days of notification. A recommendation will be made whether the arrangement is suitable or unsuitable.
In suitable arrangements the local authority has a duty to maintain and record statutory visits to the carers and children where they will offer support and advice, links to other services, training and assistance to resolve family difficulties.
If an arrangement is unsuitable parents or person with parental responsibility are responsible for making appropriate alternative arrangements and the local authority can serve a prohibition notice if required.
For further information on private fostering visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/PrivateFostering
To report that a child is being privately fostered please call First Response on 0800 13 13 126 (Staffordshire) or Safeguarding Referral Team on 01782 235100 (Stoke-on-Trent)