What the council will do
Within seven days, a social worker will visit the carer and child, and contact the parent in order to:
- Gather information for welfare checks;
- Inspect the accommodation;
- Check the carer and parents are clear about the length of the arrangement and how the child is to be supported financially;
- Interview the child alone to check they feel safe and well cared for;
- Check that arrangements have been made for the child’s health and education;
- Check that arrangements have been made for the child to keep in contact with parents.
The social worker will ask the carer to sign forms that allow them to carry out reference checks with police, probation service, local council and GP. This is to make sure that suitable adults will look after the child. Everyone in the household who is over 16 years old will also be asked to agree to be checked in this way.
If the private foster carer or others in the household do not agree to this process then the social worker will not be able to check whether the private fostering household is safe and may not be able to consider the arrangement agreed between parents and carers as suitable.
The social worker will write a report (known as an assessment) and will include information given by the parent and child, as well as the child or young person’s views about the arrangement.
A senior manager will be asked to make a decision and a letter will be sent telling parent and carer what the decision is.
A child or young person can be removed from a private foster placement if there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.
Although the primary responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child rests with the parent, the regulations are intended to help protect vulnerable children who are likely to be cared for longer term in households other than their own.
Once a suitable arrangement has been set up, if the child or young person needs support in their health or education for example, which it would be difficult for the private foster carer to access without support, the social worker will facilitate regular meetings (called children in need meetings) to discuss and make suitable arrangements. These will continue as long as they are helpful to all concerned.
Whether these are held or not, a social worker will visit the child and see them alone at least every six weeks in the first year and then three monthly thereafter.
The arrangement automatically ends on a young person’s 16th birthday (unless they have a disability, in which case it would be their 18th birthday).