Private Fostering or Looking After Someone Else’s Child

Private fostering is very different from the care of children provided by local councils through approved foster carers. The child would not be one that is looked after by the local council under the Children Act 1989.  A ‘Privately Fostered’ child is a child under the age of 16 (18 if disabled) who is cared for and accommodated by someone other than a parent or close relative* for more than 28 days.

Usually a birth parent chooses and arranges private foster placements, which could take many forms. These include children coming from abroad to access the education and health systems, children living with a friend’s family after separation, divorce or arguments at home, teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend, or people who come to this country to study or work, but antisocial hours make it difficult for them to care for their own children.

There are a variety of reasons why a parent may be unable to care for their own child on a short or long term basis and a private fostering arrangement can be a positive response from friends and the local community to a family in need of support. However, any child separated from their parents is potentially vulnerable and we all have responsibilities to ensure the alternative care they receive meets their welfare and safety needs.

*Close Relatives are Step Parents, Grandparents, Brothers/Sisters or Aunts/Uncles.

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What to do

It is a legal requirement for people who make arrangements for a child to be privately fostered to notify Calderdale Council on 01422 393336 of their intentions at least 6 weeks in advance, or in emergency cases, immediately after the child becomes Privately Fostered.

The Parents and the private foster carers are responsible for notifying the council.

Private foster carers should also notify the council of any changes in their own circumstances whilst they are caring for the child or young person.

Private foster carers also need to let us know when a child or young person leaves their care, giving the name and address of the person they are moving on to.

For more information, go to the Calderdale Council Website

What the council will do

It is Calderdale Council’s legal duty to make sure all private fostering arrangements are safe for the child or young person, but they can only do this if they are aware of the arrangement. Once informed of the arrangement it is the council’s job to check the suitability of private foster carers, to make regular visits to the child or young person and to ensure advice, help and support is available when needed.

For more information, go to the Calderdale Council Website

Information for professionals

Private foster carers are legally required to notify Calderdale Council but many still don’t know that they have to. This means the council is unable to make sure the child or young person’s welfare is safeguarded. Workers from all agencies need to help by ensuring they are proactive in identifying and notifying MAST (Multi-Agency Screening and Tasking Team) of private fostering arrangements that they are aware of. If you know a child or young person is being privately fostered and you think the council is unaware please notify MAST on 01422 393336 or support the parent/carer to do so.

 

This information is also included in the leaflet Private Fostering – Information for Families

A flyer has been produced which summarises this information Private Fostering flyer (English)

Private Fostering flyer (Urdu); (Czech); (Polish)

Teenagers