What is private fostering?
A private fostering arrangement is made independently between the parent or person with parental responsibility and the private foster carers (without local council involvement).
These arrangements include young people under the age of 16 (or 18 if they have a disability) who are living with someone who is not considered to be a close relative.
The arrangement must continue for a minimum of 28 days for it to be considered as a private fostering arrangement.
When a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for 28 days or more by someone who is not their parent or a close relative this is called a private fostering arrangement. Close relatives are defined as step parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or by marriage). Great aunts, great uncles or parents’ cousins are not classed as close relatives
What does the law say?
North Lincolnshire Council has a legal duty to ensure that any child or young person is protected, safe, well looked after and does not come to any harm in a private fostering arrangement.
Once North Lincolnshire Council has been notified of an arrangement we have to:
- Visit the home where the child lives to carry out some checks
- Make regular visits to make sure the child is safe and well cared for
- Make sure that advice is available to the carers
- Decide whether the arrangement is acceptable or not
North Lincolnshire Council has the power to stop a person private fostering if the carer or the accommodation is considered unsuitable.
It is an offence not to notify North Lincolnshire Council of a private fostering arrangement. Failure to inform the council may result in legal proceedings taking place.
What you must do?
The law requires you to notify North Lincolnshire Council six weeks prior to:
- Your child going to stay with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more; or
- You going to look after someone else's child for 28 days or more.
You are also required to notify us if you know of someone in a personal or professional capacity that is privately fostering a child or young person.
How to notify North Lincolnshire Children's Services
To notify Children's Services about a child who is going to stay with someone who is not a close relative, please ring the Single Access Point on 01724 296500.
If a child or a young person is already staying with someone who is not a close relative you must notify us immediately on 01724 296500.
Advice and information
Children's Services will offer help and answer any queries you may have. They won't want to interfere with the private fostering arrangement. They just want to ensure that it is meeting the needs of the privately fostered child or young person.
If you have a query, want advice or information please contact us on 01724 296500.
Examples of private fostering arrangements
Private fostering situations can include:
- Children or young people who are sent to this country for education or health care by their birth parents from overseas
- Teenagers living with a friend's family because they do not get on with their own family
- Children living with a friend's family because their parents' study or work involves unsociable hours, which makes it difficult to use ordinary day care or after school care
- Children staying with another family because their parents have divorced or separated, are hospitalised or imprisoned
- A child from overseas staying with a host family while attending school, or overseas students at boarding school who stay with a host family during the holidays
Stop – Am I looking after someone else’s child who is not a close relative?
Think – Will they be staying for more than 28 days?
Act – Inform North Lincolnshire Council - Single Access Point immediately on 01724 296500.