If you are caring for someone else’s child for 28 days or more this is called Private Fostering.
Private fostering is when a child is under 16 years of age (or under 18 if they have a disability) and is living and being looked after for more than 28 days by someone who is not
- A parent
- A close relative i.e. grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt or step-parent
- A person with parental responsibility for the child
- this does not include a child looked after by the Local Authority
There are lots of reasons why children are privately fostered including;
- Children who live with a friend’s family because their parents have separated or divorced or because of arguments at home
- Teenagers who live with their girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s family
- Children or teenagers on holiday exchanges for more than 28 days
- Children at independent boarding schools who do not return home for holidays and live with host families
- Children sent to this country for education or for medical needs by their parents who live overseas
Many people do not know they are private foster carers as they have made informal arrangements with friends. Parents and carers are required by law to inform us if they have a private fostering arrangement in place.
To find out more check out the Cheshire East Council's Private Fostering page
What to consider if you want to be a private foster carer
If you are thinking of Privately Fostering a child then all you need to do is contact the East Consultation Service (ChECS) on the number below:
Why we have to be involved
It is a legal requirement to be involved and assess the situation. Only a small number of private foster carers and parents are notifying local authorities, as the law requires.
Many private foster carers and parents are not aware of the need to notify the local authority, and others are reluctant to do so.
To help keep children safe and support families, all parents and private foster carers must notify us of a private fostering arrangement.
What we will do
We will work together with the child, the parents and private foster carers to ensure that the best possible arrangements are in place for the child, including:
- Listening to what the child wants
- Arranging for a social worker to support the child and carer(s)
- Helping carer(s) to fill in the necessary forms to apply to be a private foster carer
- Helping to ensure that the child’s cultural linguistic and religious needs are being met
- If we think the arrangement is unsuitable, we will decide what action to take to safeguard the child’s welfare
What if the situation changes
If you are privately fostering you must also let us know as soon as possible if there are any changes to your arrangements, for example if you move house or change address, if someone moves into or out of the house, or if someone living in the house commits an offence. You should also plan for and discuss any changes with the parent(s) and the child.