Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a 'close relative'. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more. Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity).
Although Local Authorities are charged with several duties, including the implementation of measures designed to strengthen private fostering notification arrangements, raising awareness of private fostering across partner agencies, ensuring that relevant training practices are developed, reviewing the findings of the annual private fostering report submitted by the local authority and responding to the findings of Ofsted inspections, all partner agencies of the LSCB, parents and private foster parents have a responsibility and duty to:
- Ensure that privately fostered children are protected
- Raise awareness of Private Fostering and the need to notify the Local Authority of arrangements
- Ensure that private fostering arrangements are satisfactory and compliant with legislation
- Ensure that the private foster parents are suitable and that
- Appropriate advice is being given
- Consider post 16 support for those who are no longer subject to Private Fostering due to their age
In a private fostering placement, the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child stays with the parent. Local Authorities or LSCBs do not approve or register private foster parents. Placement cannot be prevented unless the person is disqualified or a prohibition order is imposed. The Local Authority cannot remove the child except under an Emergency Protection Order
Actions for Local Authority Staff
The Private Fostering National Minimum Standards summarize the duties on Local Authorities and Children’s Social Care in each of Tees Local Authorities will have their own operational procedure. The following gives an overview of the requirements.
The Social Worker will assess the suitability of all aspects of a private fostering arrangement which will include a private foster carer, their household and premises, provide an environment in which the child’s welfare will be safeguarded and promoted. The social worker must ensure that all statutory checks are completed and they must see the child alone unless the child refuses or unless it would be inappropriate due to the child’s age / understanding.
As part of their assessment of the suitability of the private fostering arrangement, the Social Worker will also identify, in consultation with their Team Manager, if a child should be treated as a Child in Need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
The Social Worker is also responsible for carrying out visits to the child and private foster carer under Regulation 8 of the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005.
Each Local Authority is required to have a Private Fostering Officer and s/he will complete an annual review of their private fostering arrangements and submit it to the Local Safeguarding Children Board as a self-evaluation report. The aim of which is to assure the Board that; legislative requirements are being met, children in or who may be going to be Privately Fostered are safe, arrangements for collecting / managing data, assessments, monitoring visits and audit arrangements are robust, awareness raising is taking place and capacity to improve is identified and reported on.
Local Authority Private Fostering Officers and arrangements are as follows:
Local Authority Private Fostering Link
Responsibility of other agencies; health schools etc.
All professionals and agencies that work with children must establish the relationship that exists between any child and those who care for him or her. If that relationship denotes a private fostering relationship — or if the relationship cannot be established — a referral must be made to Children’s Social Care using the Multi Agency (SAFER) Referral Form
Please refer to each of the Tees LSCB Multi Agency Training Programmes for information in respect of when their Private Fostering training sessions are held.
Useful Guidance Pathway Tools, Contacts and Websites: