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Private fostering

What is private fostering?

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.
  • Grandparents.
  • 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 children cared for by:

  • cousins;
  • great aunts/uncles;
  • 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?

You must inform Darlington children’s services.

This should be 6 weeks before the arrangement starts.

If the arrangement is an emergency, then inform us 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.

Legally, you need for you to tell Darlington local authority of any private fostering arrangement.

Contact details

The contact for Darlington children’s services is the Children’s Front Door.

They are open during the following hours:

  • Monday – Thursday 8:30am to 5pm.
  • Friday – 8:30am to 4:30pm.

If you need to get in touch out of office hours, contact the emergency duty team.

Call: 01642 524552

Why must I do this?

Current arrangements came about 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 around 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.

They will visit the private foster carer to discuss the arrangements 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.

Private foster carers will undertake a private fostering assessment.

This assessment will include making sure the child is being cared for.

They take into account, amongst other areas, their:

  • physical;
  • intellectual;
  • emotional; social and
  • behavioural development.

The assessment will include the suitability of the accommodation.

They will check the parenting capacity of the prospective/current private foster carer.

The assessment will take no longer than 45 days.

The social worker will visit you at home within 7 days of receiving the notification and see both you and the child.

They will then visit you every 6 weeks in the first year and at least every 12 weeks following the first year.

They will provide any support required by the private foster carer while they care for the child.

Watch a short clip about private fostering

Somebody Else's Child: A guide to private fostering [external link].

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