Private fostering occurs when a parent makes arrangements for their child to be cared for by someone other than themselves for more than 28 days. This includes extended family, for example a cousin, a great aunt or great uncle, a great grandparent; or a family friend. It does not include close blood relatives: a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or a step-parent.
A child is considered to be anyone under the age of 16, or a disabled young person under 18.
Reasons for private fostering arrangements
There are many reasons why a child may be privately fostered such as:
Parental separation, divorce or arguments within the child’s home.
A teenage boyfriend or girlfriend of your own child living with you.
Looking after a child whose parents study or whose work involves unsociable hours and they are unable to use ordinary day care.
Looking after a child who has been sent to this country for education.
Healthcare reasons by birth parents living overseas.
Are you looking after someone else's child?
The law now states that you are required to inform Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s Children’s Services of the agreement if you live in the Rotherham area and:
You as a parent are planning for your child to be cared for by someone else (who is not a close blood relative or someone connected through marriage) for more than 28 days.
You as a carer are looking after, or are intending to look after, someone else’s child for more than 28 days.
This is so that Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s Children’s Services can assist you in ensuring that the child remains safe. It is an offence not to inform the Council of a private fostering arrangement.
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has a duty of care and to ensure everyone involved with the arrangement is getting the right advice, guidance and support they need.
You must inform us six weeks before the arrangement is due to commence. If the child comes to live with you in an emergency, you must notify us within 48 hours.
The needs of the child
In order to give the child the best support, it is important that private carers work with us and the child’s parents to make sure the child feels safe and well cared for.
The parent needs to provide the carer with as much information about the child as possible, including details about their health, dietary preferences, education, hobbies, religion and customs. It is important for the carers to find out about the child’s education, health, religious beliefs and everyday things such as their favourite foods, hobbies or any groups they attend. This information will help them to keep continuity in their life.
As a parent, you will continue to retain parental responsibility and will participate in all decisions about their child. The carer should share details of what is happening in the child’s life with the parent and ensure that they are included in any decision making regarding the child’s upbringing.
As a carer, you are required to ensure that the child’s health needs are taken care of, make sure they attend school, ensure they visit the dentist, help them stay in touch with family, help them to follow any religions and customs that are important to the child, provide regular meals, make sure the child makes friends and takes part in activities that are important and they enjoy.
Our duty of care
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has a duty of care to make sure a child is safe and everyone involved with the arrangement is getting the right advice, guidance and support they need.
When we hear about a private fostering agreement, we will arrange for a social worker to carry out an assessment and statutory checks to make sure the needs of the child will be met. Where possible, the parents will be contacted. Our social workers will also provide the carers with support, practical information and advice, as well as details about benefits that may be available.
We will also arrange regular visits to see how the child has settled in and ensure that the child is happy in the home they are living in and feel safe.