What is Private Fostering?
A private fostering arrangement occurs when a child under 16 (or 18 if the child is disabled) is cared for and lives with an adult who is not a relative for 28 days or more.
The Children Act 1989: Private Fostering (DfE July 2005) defines a relative as a step parent (by marriage or civil partnership), grandparent, step grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt.
Private fostering is a private arrangement made the parent(s), or those with parental responsibility, for someone to care for their child because they are unable to do so (permanently or temporarily). This may be due to parental ill health, a parent going abroad or in to prison, a child being bought to the UK to study English, the relationship between the child and parent has broken down, etc.
There does not need to be an exchange of money in such an arrangement to make it a private fostering arrangement, although some parents may pay fees to the carers or provide money to cover their child’s costs.
Parents and carers are legally required to notify Specialist Children’s Services about any such arrangement they make and Specialist Children’s Services are legally required to assess the arrangement for its suitability. Parents often fail to do so because they are unaware of the requirements and believe that this is a private family arrangement which does not concern anybody else. This lack of awareness means that many privately fostered children remain hidden and can be vulnerable.
If you know that a child is being privately fostered you should contact Specialist Children’s Services on 03000 41 11 11