By law, the council must know about all children in Bromley who are being privately fostered and children who are about to be privately fostered. We have a duty to ensure the child’s safety and that the private foster carer has the support they need to meet the child’s needs.
What is private fostering?
A private fostering (PF) arrangement is essentially one that is made privately (i.e. without the involvement of a local authority) for the care of a child under the age of 16 (under 18, if disabled), by someone other than a parent or close relative, with the intention that it should last for 28 days or more.
A person who is a close relative under the Children Act 1989 i.e. a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether biologically related or by marriage) or a stepparent will not be a private foster carer. However, private foster carers may be a cousin, a great aunt, friend of the family, parent of a friend of the child. The period for which the child is cared for by the private foster carer should be continuous.
Arrangements for private fostering were updated in the Children Act 2004 and the Children (Private Arrangement for Fostering) Regulations 2005, which set out the duties of local authorities in their arrangements for private fostering. The National Minimum Standards (NMS) for Local Authorities were published in 2005 alongside this.
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.
In these situations, the local council’s children’s services must be informed to be in accordance with the law.
Birth parents, private foster carers and persons who are arranging for a child to be privately fostered are required by law to notify the local council’s children’s services of the arrangement. If you know someone in a personal or professional capacity who is privately fostering or is about to, you should encourage them to notify children’s services and if they are not able to do so then you should take responsibility for notifying them.
A social worker will visit the home to speak to the carer and the child to ensure the child is safe, carry out background checks and make sure support is being provided
Support available for private foster carers may include:
- Advice on benefits and possible funding for some essential items
- Parenting support and advice.
- Help in bringing families in crisis back together.
For more information on Private Fostering please download our Private Fostering App: Bromley PFA for free and you will have access to news and information on safeguarding events, early intervention support groups in Bromley, e-training, internet safety for children, as well as serious case reviews and guidelines for professionals working with children and families.The Bromley PFA can be downloaded via iTunes or Google Play Store:
By working together with partner agencies, we will ensure that every child in Bromley has the right help at the right time to keep them safe and to meet their needs, so that they achieve, thrive and reach their full potential
- 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 have your questions answered, and to get the support you and the child need.