Important information for private foster carers, parents or anyone aware of a child living with someone who is not a close relative.

Questions to ask yourselfboy2

  • Is someone else’s child living with you?
  • Is your child living with someone else?
  • Are you involved in arranging for a child to live with someone who is not a close relative?

If so, this could be a private fostering arrangement and the law says you must tell us about it.  We have to make sure privately fostered children are properly looked after and we have to offer you advice and services.

What is private fostering?

  • When a child under 16 (or 18 if they have a disability) is cared for by someone, who is not a close relative, for 28 days or more.
  • It is private fostering if the child lives with someone from their extended family such as a great aunt or great uncle or their parents’ cousins.
  • A private foster carer may be a friend of the family or of the child, or another adult that the child doesn’t know, but who is willing to foster privately.
  • It is not private fostering when a child is living with a close relative such as a grandparent, brother, sister or step parent.

If you are a private foster carer

  • You must tell us at least six weeks before a child comes to live with you.
  • You must tell us within 48 hours of the child coming to live with you, if the arrangement is made in an emergency.
  • You must tell us straight away if a child is already living with you, and you haven’t told us.
  • You must tell us at least 48 hours before a child leaves your care. You’ll also need to tell us where the child is going to live next.
  • If you are the parent of the child, or any other person involved in, or aware of a private fostering arrangement.
  • You must tell us as soon as possible about the arrangement.

If you think you, or someone you know, is involved in a private fostering arrangement, or you need advice, please make contact with Croydon Children’s Services Contact Centre on 0208 726 6400.

What happens next? 

  • A social care worker will arrange a visit and speak to the carer and members of the household, in their own home, within seven working days and complete an assessment.
  • A social care worker will also speak to the child or young person and visit the parents, where possible.
  • We’ll give you information about private fostering, including details of support and advice available in Croydon for the carer, the child and the parent.
  • Private foster carers will have to give us information about the child, themselves and other members of the household. We’ll look at the private fostering arrangement to make sure the child is safe and is being properly cared for.
  • A social care worker will visit the child regularly to offer support and make sure they remain safe and well cared for.
  • Children’s Services do not approve private foster carers.  They do, however, have the power to prevent a person from acting as a private foster carer if the care (or the accommodation) they provide is not considered suitable.

View LB Croydon’s Private Fostering Panel Procedures here: LB Croydon Private Fostering Panel Procedures_Nov 2014

Typical examples of private fostering arrangements

  • Children sent to this country, for education or health care, by parents who live overseas.
  • A teenager living with a friend’s family because they don’t get on with their own family.
  • Children living with a friend’s family because their parents’ study or work involves unsociable hours, which make it difficult to use ordinary day care or after-school care.
  • Children staying with another family because their parents have separated or divorced.
  • A child from overseas staying with a host family while attending a language school, or overseas students at boarding school who stay with a host family during the holidays.

Checklist

Please refer to the checklist below if you are unsure whether or not an arrangement is a private fostering arrangement:

  • Is someone other than a parent, a person with parental responsibility or a close relative providing the child with accommodation?  Note: A great aunt or uncle or a cousin is not defined as a close relative within the private fostering regulations.
  • Is the child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled)?
  • Are the child’s parents, or the person with parental responsibility, living at a different address?
  • Has the young person been living with the private foster carers for a period of 28 days or more?  If not, is the intent for the child to remain for a period of 28 days or more?
  • Is the placement arranged by someone other than the local authority?

If the answer to all the questions is yes, ring Croydon Children’s Services Contact Centre on 0208 726 6400.

Private Fostering leaflet

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