Looking after a child who is not your own? If the answer is yes, you may be in a private fostering arrangement.
What is Private Fostering?
Private Fostering is when a child or young person under the age of 16 (18 if the young person has a disability) is looked after for 28 days or more by someone who is not a close relative, guardian or a person with parental responsibility. Close relatives also include step-parents, aunts and uncles.
Private Fostering is not an arrangement that has been made by Children’s Care Services or an arrangement for the young person to be looked after by a an approved foster carer or childminder.
People become private foster carers for all sorts of reasons. Private foster carers can be a friend of the child's family, or be someone who is willing to care for the child for a family they do not know.
The reasons for Private Fostering may be:
- Children or young people have been sent to this country for health or educational reasons by their birth parents that live overseas
- Children or young people living with a family friends or with their friends family due to their parents separating, divorce, arguments/unsettlement at home
- Teenagers finding it hard to live at home with their parents
- Children and young people that are on a holiday exchange longer than 28 days
- A parent who is working in another area or abroad
- A parent who is having problems coping with a new baby might ask a friend to look after it or another one of their children
- A parent who is ill
What should I do if I think I'm in a private fostering arrangement?
By law you must inform Bradford Metropolitan District Council about any private fostering situations in Bradford.
- You must inform Children’s Care Services six weeks before the arrangement is due to start.
- You must tell us within 48 hours of the child coming to live with you, if the arrangement is made in an emergency.
- If the child already lives with you and you have not already told us, contact us immediately.
- You must tell us at least 48 hours before the child leaves your care. You also need to tell us where the child is going to live next.
- If you are a parent or the child or a person involved in, or aware of, a private fostering arrangement you must tell us as soon as possible about the arrangement.
It is a criminal offence to fail to notify the local authority if you are privately fostering a child. However we understand that many people who are privately fostering do not know that they have to notify us. We want to ensure that the child is being cared for properly and that the carers and parents are receiving all the help and support they need.
Bradford Services to Children and Young People has a legal duty to ensure that all private fostering arrangements meet the needs of the child/young person.
What will happen next?
Bradford Services to Children & Young People will arrange to meet you to talk through the placement and to make sure the best possible arrangements are in place for the child.
This will include:
- Visiting the child and the parent where possible
- Helping to ensure the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic needs are met.
- Offering advice and information about private fostering including details of support services that are available in your area.
A social worker will visit you and carry out an assessment. This will involve carrying out Criminal Record Bureau checks on all the adults over sixteen in the household. This is to make sure that there is no one in the household who might be a danger to a child or young person. The social worker will ensure that proper arrangement s are made about the child’s health, education and general wellbeing. The social worker will want to see the child alone and to look at where they will be sleeping. Once the assessment is complete the social worker will let the carer and parent know if they are satisfied or not with the private fostering arrangement.
Is there any support available?
The social worker will visit at least every six weeks in the first year of, the placement and then three monthly in following years. They will talk over any problems and try to resolve them. The social worker will offer help and advice and will be able to make referrals to other agencies if that is necessary. Remember Bradford Children’s Services are here to help you. We want to ensure that children in private fostering situations are happy and healthy.
How to contact us
If you think that you are, or are about to be in a private fostering, or you have concerns about a child please contact one of our children’s advisers on 01274 437500. They will be able to advise you and will make a referral to a one of our children’s assessment teams.