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Drive supports people who ‘privately foster’

A new national campaign is urging parents who 'privately foster' to contact their local council.

Private fostering is where a child lives with someone who isn't their parent or a close relative.

This can be for a number of reasons including if the child's parents are unwell or abroad, or if there are difficulties in the family.

In Leicestershire, it's thought that there are up to 30 private fostering arrangements and people are encouraged to contact the County Council who can offer support and advice.

The move is part of national Private Fostering Awareness Week, which charity British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) is running from 6 to 10 July.

Ivan Ould, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for children and families, said: "If you look after someone else's child, or know of someone who does, we're encouraging you to contact us.

"Ensuring that all children are safe is a priority. Experienced social workers understand the different and possibly difficult situations which lead to private fostering and can offer support, and a personal contact for you and the child."

People can contact the council on 0116 305 0005 or find out more at: http://lrsb.org.uk/uploads/private-fostering-leaflets---advice-for-carers.pdf

More information about BAAF's campaign is available at: http://www.privatefostering.org.uk/

Notes

Private fostering is where a child under 16 (or under 18 if the child has a disability) is being cared for and is living with someone else who isn't their parent or a close relative for a month of more.

This excludes: a parent, or other person who holds parental responsibility for the child - a close relative; for example, a grandparent, step-parent, brother or sister, uncle or aunt. The relative can be half blood, full blood or by marriage.

Private Fostering

A private fostering arrangement is essentially one that is made without the direct 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 for 28 days or more.

A close relative is defined as "a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent.

Privately fostered children are a diverse and sometimes vulnerable group which includes:

  • Children sent from abroad to stay with another family, usually to improve their educational opportunities;
  • Teenagers who, having broken ties with their parents, are staying in short-term arrangements with friends or other non-relatives;
  • Language students living with host families.

For Parents and Carers

If you are the parent or carer then you must tell Children's Services 6 weeks before the child moves in. If the child is already living with you or about to arrive then let them know immediately.

If you are in any doubt about whether or not what you are doing is private fostering, call for advice. Children's services will ask you to give us full details about your private fostering arrangement. A social worker will visit you and the child or young person and talk to you about how you will be able to look after the child. The social worker will visit regularly during the time of the arrangement to make sure everything is still okay.

For Professionals

Professionals also have a duty in relation to Private Fostering. Becoming aware that a child is being privately fostered requires vigilance by practitioners. Teachers, health (particularly GPs and Health Visitors) and other professionals should notify the appropriate Duty Team of a private fostering arrangement that comes to their attention, where they are not satisfied that the arrangement has been or will be notified.

You also have a duty in relation to:

  • Check with Leicestershire First Response Team / Rutland Duty & Assessment Team / Duty and Advice Service to ensure that the arrangement has been notified, as failure to notify can place a child at risk;
  • Contribute to the assessment of the suitability of the arrangement by providing relevant information about the child or carer when this is requested by Children's Services;
  • Monitor the child's welfare and progress, and provide support and guidance to the child's carer in accordance with your agency's or practitioner remit;
  • Be involved in ongoing liaison with Children's Services to address any welfare concerns or unmet needs of the child.

Leaflets

Further information