Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (18 if they are disabled) lives with someone who is not a close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility for 28 days or more. Private fostering is not the same as fostering arranged by the local authority.
Children and young people become privately fostered for a variety of reasons
- their parents live overseas and they come to this country to attend school
- their parents are ill and cannot look after them
- their parents work away from home, possibly abroad
- their parents have come to the UK to study or work and require someone to look after their children
- they are teenagers who are estranged from their families
The law says that we must be told about all private fostering arrangements. The child’s parents or carers should notify us of the arrangement, although anyone else involved in making the arrangement or who is aware of it also has a responsibility to inform us.
The Children Act 1989, and section 44 of the Children Act 2004, outlines the legal duty of the local authority to make sure that the welfare of all privately fostered children is safeguarded and promoted.
If you are planning to privately foster you must inform us no earlier than 13 weeks before, and no later than 6 weeks before you start to care for a child. If the child comes to live with you in an emergency you must inform us within 48 hours.
A social worker will need to visit you and the people who live in your home to make sure that the placement is suitable and that all the needs of the child or children are being met. They will also speak to the child or children to make sure that a thorough assessment of the placement is carried out. A social worker will also be able to offer you support and advice. All members of your family living in your home that are aged 16 and over must have a police check.
We will contact all professionals and agencies that have any involvement with the child, including the child’s school, to ensure that a thorough assessment of the child’s needs is made.
You must let us know if your circumstances change and when the placement comes to an end, and let us know the name and address of the person who has taken over care of the child.
If you have any questions or enquiries please email us: PrivateFostering@somerset.gov.uk