Are you looking after somebody else’s child or do you know someone who is?
Private fostering is when a child or young person under 16 years old (or 18 if they have a disability) is looked after for a period of 28 days or more by someone who is not a close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility. Close relatives include parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
People become private foster carers for all sorts of reasons. They can be a friend of the child’s family or someone who is willing to care for the child of a family they do not know.
Common situations are:
- children and young people living apart from their families
- children with parents overseas
- children living with host families for a variety of reasons
- children on holiday exchanges which last more than 27 days
People involved in private fostering arrangements must, by law, inform Devon County Council.
Any child separated from their parents is potentially vulnerable and we have a responsibility to make sure the alternative care they receive is suitable.
The child’s parents, private foster carers and anyone else involved in the arrangement are legally required to inform us immediately.
Many people don’t know that they must do this, which means the necessary arrangements to ensure the child or young person is safe are not being made.
People involved in private fostering must contact us in the following timescales:
- If the child is not yet living with private foster carers – six weeks beforehand.
- If the child moves in with private foster carers in less than six weeks – immediately.
- If the child is already living with private foster carers – immediately.
What the Private Fostering Team will do
The Private Fostering Team is part of Devon County Council’s Children’s Services. We will work in partnership with the parents and carers to make sure the child is safe and well cared for in the arrangement. We will:
- make sure the carers are trustworthy – everyone in the household aged 16 years or older will need to have a DBS check
- support both parents and carers to ensure that the child’s physical, emotional, educational and cultural needs are met
- help parents and carers consider finance, consent and contact needs
- visit the child and carers regularly, providing advice and support
- be a listening ear for child, parents and carers for any concerns or difficulties there maybe
What should professionals do?
There are a number of professionals who may come into contact with children or families who are involved in private fostering arrangements. These include teachers, religious leaders, doctors and health visitors.
If you are a professional and are made aware of a private fostering arrangement, you should inform Devon County Council’s Private Fostering Team and encourage the child’s parents or carers to do so as well.
You will not be breaching confidentiality by informing us. This legislation is in place to protect and safeguard children.
- More information for private foster carers
- Information for carers of overseas students
- Somebody Else’s Child – A guide to Private Fostering
Further guidance about private fostering is available at GOV.UK – National minimum standards for private fostering.