Who can foster?
A UK private foster carer is not a parent or close relative who cares for a child under the age of 16, or under 18 if disabled, for 28 days or more in an arrangement with the child’s parent. The parent remains responsible for any financial support during the child’s stay.
The carers may be a cousin, great aunt, a friend, or someone unknown to the child. Immediate relatives such as grandparents, brother or sisters, aunt or uncles, and step-parents are not considered as private foster carers.
How to make arrangements
Arrangements are made without the involvement of the Local Authority; they are usually made by the parents of the child or another adult or on some occasions by young people themselves.
If you are a parent and want your child to stay with another adult who is not a close relative or an approved foster carer for more than 28 days, you must let your council social services know, at least two weeks before the date of the move, letting them know what you intend to do.
The following are examples of the type of children and young people that might be involved in private arrangements:
- arrangements made during parental illness or children living with other adults because their parents study or work involves long or unsociable hours
- children staying with families whilst attending a school away from their home area or children from overseas whose parents are not resident in this country
- young people who stay with friends because they have fallen out with their families.
The duty to notify your LA of a private fostering arrangement
Under the Children Act 1989 (part IX), there are a number of responsibilities designed to safeguard children that may be privately fostered. The key points are:
- It is the responsibility of the parent, carer, and anyone else involved in making the private fostering arrangement, to notify the local council of the private fostering arrangement.
- Upon notification, it is up to the LAs to satisfy themselves that the welfare of the children who are fostered privately in their area is safeguarded and promoted. They also have to satisfy themselves that carers are suitable and also ensure that carers receive any information that they may need to help them care for the child.
Why should a LA be made aware?
Safeguarding the child
Privately fostering a child is always a big responsibility, and the LA has a duty to oversee the arrangements to promote the welfare of the child and to ensure they are protected. It is important that the carer has a good understanding of the child’s needs.
A privately fostered child must be seen every 30 working days (6 weekly) under Regulation 8 of the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations.
Read more about the arrangement here: Notification of Private Fostering – Gov UK
Being a UK foster carer is one of the most rewarding careers out there, but being with the wrong agency can mean not having the number, type of placements, and financial benefits you expected. Contact us and we will find you suitable agencies in your area with vacancies.