Private fostering arrangements are made without the involvement of the LA – they are usually made by the parents of the child or another adult or on some occasions by young people themselves. Although the LA is not involved in making these arrangements, it is important that they are notified about them.
The following are examples of the type of children and young people that might be involved in private fostering arrangements:
- arrangements made during parental illness or children living with other adults because their parents study or work involves long or unsociable hours
- children staying with families whilst attending a school away from their home area or children from overseas whose parents are not resident in this country
- young people who stay with friends because they have fallen out with their families.
The duty to notify your LA of a private fostering arrangement
Under the Children Act 1989 (part IX), there are a number of responsibilities designed to safeguard children that may be privately fostered. The key points are:
- It is the responsibility of the parent, carer, and anyone else involved in making the private fostering arrangement, to notify the local council of the private fostering arrangement.
- Upon notification, it is up to the LAs to satisfy themselves that the welfare of the children who are privately fostered in their area is safeguarded and promoted. They also have to satisfy themselves that private foster carers are suitable and also ensure that private foster carers receive any information that they may need to help them care for the child.
Why should a LA be made aware of private fostering arrangements?
Safeguarding the child
Privately fostering a child is always a big responsibility, and the LA has a duty to oversee the arrangements to promote the welfare of the child and to ensure they are protected. It is important that the carer has a good understanding of the child's needs.