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Private fostering

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative.

Close relatives are defined as:

  • step-parents
  • grandparents
  • brothers or sisters
  • uncles or aunts

They can be full blood, half blood or marriage/partnership.

This is usually a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more.

While many of these children will be fine, some could be at risk of abuse.

Tell us about private fostering

01708 433222 Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm
01708 433999 Out of hours/weekends
tmash@havering.gov.uk

Examples of private fostering

  1. Children and teenagers living apart from their families for a variety of reasons, eg a parent is ill, has had to temporarily move for work, or there has been an argument within the family
  2. Children with parents working or studying elsewhere in the UK
  3. Children with parents overseas
  4. Children on holiday exchanges for longer than 28 days
  5. Children living with host families while studying in the UK

Documents

  • Professionals guide to private fostering
  • Children and young peoples guide to private fostering
  • Carers and parents guide to private fostering
  • Private fostering statement of purpose

Why is the Council involved?

The Council are involved as we need to keep children safe and support families who are looking after privately fostered children, 

All parents and private foster carers must notify the local council of a private fostering arrangement. If not, they miss out on essential welfare checks for children, plus other support and services.

You can help us keep children safe by spreading the word and telling us if you know of a child who is being privately fostered.

If you are involved in private fostering it is your legal duty to inform the Council, who can offer you and your privately fostered child lots of help and support (remember if the arrangement was made by social services it is not private fostering).

Privately fostered children are safeguarded by the Children Act 1989 and 2004.  Under the act, councils have a legal requirement to satisfy themselves that the welfare of children who are privately fostered in their area are being satisfactory safeguarded.

The Department for Education has provided statutory guidance for local authorities on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of privately fostered children. 

You can learn more about the national minimum standards for private fostering on the Gov.uk website.

Information for children and teenagers

If you are under the age of 16 (18 if you are disabled) and your mum and dad have asked someone who is not your relative to look after you for 28 days or more, you may be privately fostered.

If you are being privately fostered Havering Council needs to know who is looking after you and where you are living.

If you are being privately fostered, things you should know. You should:

  • feel safe and comfortable in your new home
  • be in regular contact with your parents
  • be attending school
  • be registered with a doctor
  • be able to practice your religious beliefs and observe your culture

If you are not happy where you are living, you can talk to a social worker, teacher or another adult you can trust.

Information for professionals

Professionals play an important role by identifying and notifying Havering Council of private fostering arrangements and by ensuring parents and carers are aware of their responsibilities.

By monitoring and supervising private fostering arrangements we can all help to safeguard children at risk of abuse and neglect. 

In particular professionals working in the universal services of health and education have a pivotal role as they will often be the first to become aware of such arrangements.

These agencies share the local Councils responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of privately fostered children.

Other agencies need to be aware that failure by a private foster carer or parent to notify a local authority of a private fostering arrangement is an offence and if local authorities are not aware of such arrangements they cannot carry out their duty to ensure that the welfare of the children concerned is being satisfactorily safeguarded.

If you believe a child is being privately fostered please contact us.

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