Looking after someone’s child? Or is someone else looking after yours?
By law you must tell us when a child is looked after for 28 days or more, even on some occasions by a relative.
What is private fostering?
Private fostering is when a child or young person of up to 16 years of age (or 18 if the child is disabled) is in the care of someone who:
- Is not his or her parent
- Does not have parental responsibility
- Is not a close relative - such as a grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle (whether blood relative or by marriage) or a stepparent
Close relatives are defined as grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts (whether of full blood or half blood or by marriage) or step-parent under the Children Act 1989.
If a child or young person is being looked after by anyone else then this is known as a private fostering arrangement. If you are aware of a private fostering arrangement then you need to let us know.
More about private fostering
What does the law say?
By law, all private fostering arrangements have to be registered with the local authority where the private foster carer lives. If someone is looking after a child who is not their own for more than 28 days you must inform us as soon as you are aware.
You have a duty to inform us about a private fostering arrangement and you may be committing an offence if you know and do not report it.
What will we do?
We have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in our borough, and to ensure that those in private fostering arrangements are safe and secure.
To fulfil this duty we will:
- Act on information given by parents, carers and anyone else about private fostering arrangements and visit to assess the suitability of the arrangement. This includes making checks on the carer and their home.
- Speak to the child alone and speak to the carer.
- Make regular visits in line with the law to ensure the child remains safe and is well cared for. This should be within 1 week of being told about a private fostering arrangement and subsequently at least every 6 weeks after that for the first year, moving to at least every 12 weeks in subsequent years.
- Offer advice and support to the birth parents or carers to promote the best interests of the child.
Examples of private fostering
Private fostering can happen in a range of different circumstances. The list below gives some examples:
- Children sent from abroad to live with other families, or extended family members, in the UK.
- Children whose parents have paid someone to care for them whilst they are away working or studying.
- Unaccompanied minors who are living with friends or strangers.
- Teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Children who are attending boarding schools and who live with a host family during the holidays.
- Children brought to the UK for adoption.
- Children and young people who have to live away from their own family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home.
- Private Fostering - A guide for children and young people
- Private Fostering - A guide for parents and carers
- Private Fostering - A guide for professionals and members of the public
What to do next?
Contact the MASH team to get the right support now for you and the child.