What is Private Fostering?
It is when a child is being cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative. This is a private arrangement made without the involvement of a local authority.
The child has to be under 16 (18 if disabled) and have lived with the carer for 28 days or more.
Close relatives are
- Step Parents
- Brothers and sisters
- Aunts or Uncles whether by full or half blood or by marriage
A child cared for by any of the above close relatives is NOT privately fostered.
Examples of private fostering arrangements are e.g. children being cared for by their cousins, great aunts/uncles or family friends.
Other examples of private fostering would be a child –
- Living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Staying with another family because their parents have divorced or separated or there has been an argument at home
- Sent to this country, for education or healthcare by parents who live overseas
- Living with family friends because their parents study or work which involves unsociable hours
- Educated at a boarding school and staying during the holidays
- On a language school or holiday exchange.
What do I need to do?
If you are arranging private fostering or providing private fostering and you live in Darlington you MUST inform Darlington Children’s Services. This should be 6 weeks before the arrangement starts or if it has been arranged in an emergency then within 48 hours of this happening.
If a child is already living with you, and you have not told Darlington Children’s Services, you must do so immediately.
There is a legal requirement for you to advise Darlington Local Authority of any private fostering arrangement.
The contact for Darlington Children’s Services is the Children’s Access Point (CAP)
Telephone 01325 406222 or
The CAP is open during the following hours:
Monday – Thursday 08:30 to 17:00
Friday – 08:30 to 16:30
If you need to get in touch out of office hours, contact the Emergency Duty Team by telephone 01642 524552
Why must I do this?
Current arrangements for the regulation of private fostering arise from concern following the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000. Victoria was privately fostered by her great aunt. Arrangements were initially laid out in the Children Act 2004. Following this, the Children (Private Arrangement) Fostering Regulations 2005 set out the duties of local authorities in their arrangements for private fostering.
National Minimum Standards for local authorities to follow re private fostering were published in 2005.
What will Darlington Children’s Services do?
A social worker will visit the parent, or make contact with them dependent on where they live, and will also visit the Private Foster Carer to discuss the arrangements being made for the child. The social worker will visit the private foster home to check the situation is suitable and safe for a child to live.
When the child is living with the private foster carer the social worker will visit the child and private foster carers and will undertake a private fostering assessment.
This assessment will include ensuring the child /young person is being safely cared for and takes into account, amongst other areas, their physical, intellectual, emotional, social and behavioural development. The assessment will include the suitability of the accommodation and an evaluation of the parenting capacity of the prospective / current private foster carer.
The assessment will take no longer than 45 days and the Social Worker will visit you at home within 7 days of receiving the notification and see both you and the child(ren) privately fostered. They will then visit you every 6 weeks in the first year and at least every 12 weeks following the first year.
Any required support and advice will also be provided to the Private Foster Carer whilst they remain caring for the child / young person.
To watch a short clip about private fostering click on the YouTube video below
Ofsted national minimum standards for private fostering [external link]