What is private fostering?
Private fostering is a term used when a child or young person under the age of 16 (18 if the young person has a disability) goes to live with someone else for 28 days or more that is not a parent or close relative.
Since the Children Act 2004, it has been a legal responsibility for a local authority to know about children and young people who are privately fostered. We have a duty to assess and monitor arrangements to make sure the child or young person is safe and their needs are being met.
Private fostering is not the same as traditional fostering, where children or young people are cared for by local council services, who help to find a temporary or permanent new home with a foster carer.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a foster carer, please visit the Fostering for Bradford website. We are always looking for incredible potential foster carers to join our supportive community and care for children and young people across the Bradford district.
Why are children privately fostered?
We know that sometimes children and young people cannot live at home for lots of different reasons. Often, children in private foster care are able to live with a relative or a friend who they already know. A private fostering arrangement might happen for a number of reasons such as:
- A child or young person living with a family friend as a result of their parents breaking up or family fall out
- A child or young person living with their friend’s family
- A young person living with their boyfriend or girlfriend
- A child or young person sent (for educational or medical purposes) from another country without their parents and living with someone who is not a close relative
Private fostering also covers children or young people who stay at a residential school for more than two weeks during the school holidays.
Questions and answers
Who counts as a close relative?
A close relative could be a grandparent, aunt or uncle or sibling, if you are any of these to the child or young person living with you, then this is not a private fostering arrangement, however, there could still be support available.
Do parents give up their parental rights when their child is in a private fostering arrangement?
No, you still have parental rights for your child even if they are not living with you. You should continue to be involved in all the decisions about your child’s upbringing and it is important you visit your child regularly and play an active part in their life.
Are parents entitled to updates on how their child is doing when in a private fostering arrangement?
Yes, parents are to be updated and involved in the care of their child and if they are unhappy with the amount of information they are receiving about their child’s life, they can contact their child’s social worker. We will do everything we can to help, including facilitating better relationship’s with the child’s carer, ensure the child is being well cared for and that they are safe and well.
What do I have to do?
If you are a parent:
- Ring Bradford Children’s Services to let us know of any arrangements you are planning to make or as soon as possible if you had to sort things out in an emergency.
- Remember you are still responsible for your child so you need to make sure any arrangements that are made are right and that the carer has all the information they need.
- Support any arrangements financially.
If you are a Private Foster Carer:
- Let Bradford Children’s Services of your intention to foster a child or young person in at least 6 weeks in advance, or as soon as possible if you had to sort things out in an emergency.
- Provide a safe and caring home for the child or young person to live in.
- Arrange all medical and dental appointments as required.
- Ensure the child or young person attends their educational provision.
Support available for private foster carers may include:
- Advice on benefits and possible funding for some essential items
- Parenting support and advice
- Help in bringing families in crisis back together
What can other professionals do to help?
Education, health and Social Care professionals play an important role, as they are often the people who first become aware of a Private Fostering Arrangement.
If you know that a child is being privately fostered, you need to make a referral to Bradford Social Care. You will also need to let the parent and private foster carer about the referral.
If you have concerns that a child or young people may be at risk of harm you should follow your Child Protection Procedures.
What will Bradford Children and Families Trustdo?
We will arrange to meet all those involved: parents, private foster carer(s) and the child or young person, to talk through the placement and make sure the best possible arrangements are in place.
We will continue to visit every 4 weeks whilst the child or young person is living with the private foster carer(s)
We will make the necessary checks to ensure that the home is suitable for the child or young person.
We will offer advice and information about private fostering including details of support services that are available in your local area.
We will help to ensure that the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic needs are met.