Private Fostering is different from general fostering, applying where a child under 16 (or under 18 if they’re disabled) lives with an adult who is not a close relative for 28 days or more, or if the intention is for the arrangement to last 28 days or more.
There can be many reasons why a child doesn’t live at home and someone else is required to care for them:
- Family breakdown or divorce
- Parent subject to custodial sentence
- Parent arranging for child to be cared for whilst they work or study away
- Children and young people living with host families whilst they attend an education or sport academy away from their home town
- Child from outside the UK living with relatives or friends in the UK
- Young people on school exchanges for 28 days or more
These types of care arrangements are private fostering, whether or not money is exchanged. Legally Portsmouth City Council must be informed of these arrangements by the person looking after the child, or the child’s parents if the child is living in the Portsmouth area.
However many parents and carers are not aware of this and therefore don’t notify the council even though it’s against the law not to do so. If you are the parent of a child who is being looked after by someone else or you are looking after someone else’s child you must let the council know:
- Six weeks before the arrangement begins...
- ... Or within 48 hours of an emergency arrangement starting
Private foster carers must also notify the local authority within 48 hours of a privately fostered child leaving their care, giving the name and address of the person into whose care the child has been moved.
Parents have a responsibility to ensure that their child is in a suitable and safe private fostering arrangement. Parents maintain parental responsibility and continue to be involved in all decisions about their child’s life. Parents should ensure there is a formal agreement with the private foster carer so everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities - Portsmouth City Council can assist you with this.
Education and Health Professionals:
Education and health professionals are often the first people to become aware of these arrangements and have a duty to satisfy themselves that the local authority has been notified. Advice should be given to the private foster carer and/or parent of the legal requirements for them to notify the local authority.
Professionals should contact the local authority to ensure this notification has or will be made. If you have concerns that a child may be at risk of harm you should follow the child protection procedures.