Telling the council about a private fostering arrangement

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Is your child privately fostered? Or are you caring for a child on a private fostering basis?

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a parent makes a private arrangement (that is to say without the involvement of the Local Authority) for their child or children or teenager aged under 16 (under 18 for young people with disabilities) to be cared for by someone other than a close relative or legal guardian with the intention that it should last more for more than 28 days. This may be with a cousin, or a friend or a great aunt, for example.

If you make an arrangement to place you children with Grandparents, Brother/Sister, Uncle/Aunt (full blood / half blood or by marriage), or step parent, this would not be a private fostering arrangement.

You may be making this arrangement for a variety of reasons, because of illness, divorce, or difficulties in your family that means you cannot care for your children for a period of time. The private foster carer will be responsible for providing day to day care in way which will promote and safeguard his or her welfare, although the overarching responsibility remains with you.

In these circumstances ( that is when a private fostering arrangement is being planned) both parents and the carer looking after the child or young person have a duty to notify Children’s Services about the proposed arrangement before it takes place.

What do I do if I have made private fostering arrangements?

The law says if you are making private fostering arrangements you must notify Children’s Services in writing at least 6 weeks before you start looking after the child. If it’s an emergency you still need to give Children’s Services at least 48 hours’ notice.

If you have already made a private fostering arrangement for your child,
please let Children’s Services know as soon as possible.

Why is it important to tell Children’s Services?

Children’s Services will help to ensure your child or teenager is well cared for and safe.

We understand that it can be a difficult decision for parents to ask someone else to look after their child. Whatever the reason you have for making this arrangement, Children’s Services are here to help you make sure the choice is the right one, to support you, the carers and the child.

This will involve agreeing the best ways for everyone to keep in touch and finding out whether the carer will be able to claim financial benefits such as Child Benefit. It is important that Children’s Services ensure the caring arrangements are suitable for the child.

What information do Children’s Services need?

The information needed includes:
• Written notice to Children’s Services about the private fostering arrangement including when it is due to start and how long it is likely to last.
• Details of the parents and the private foster carers looking after your child, including names, addresses and contact details.
• Details of the child, including full name, date of birth, ethnic origin, religion, language spoken and especially medical information.
• Notification of any changes in circumstances – including changes of address of parent or carer or ending of the arrangement.

What will Children’s Services do?

A Social Worker will carry out an assessment to ensure the care arrangements are suitable for the child. They will assess whether the child has any additional support needs and regularly visit to provide support, advice and to ensure the child is making good progress.

How do I find out more about Private Fostering?
For further advice and informationvisit  www.privatefostering.com

If you wish to notify Children’s Services of a Private Fostering arrangement, please contact: (telephone) 01925 443400 or email: childreferral@warrington.gov.uk or visit the Warrington Borough Council Website