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Private fostering

Here you can find out about private fostering and there is also guidance for carers and young people.

Private Fostering is when a child or young person under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for:

  • By someone who is not their parent or a close relative;
  • and it is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer for 28 days or more.

A close relative can be:

  • Step-parents.
  • Grandparents.
  • Brothers and sisters.
  • Uncles and aunts.

These can be full blood, half-blood or by marriage (step).

Important note: The Local Authority must be told about any private fostering arrangement. This is the responsibility of the parent, carer or anyone else involved in making the arrangement.

Who to contact

If you know of a child that is being privately fostered, please do not ignore it. It is likely that everything is fine, but the parent/carer must (by law) tell their local council. If appropriate, you could speak to the parent or carer about this.

You can also get in touch with us. By contacting our Multi-Agency Screening Team (MAST) you will:

  • Make sure that the child or young person is safe and supported;
  • and the private foster carer has all the information they need.

For our contact details, please see: Child protection.

A carers' guide to private foster care

What must I do?

The Children Act 1989 says you must tell us as soon as possible.

It is a Private Fostering arrangement if you are:

  • not an approved foster carer or a close relative;
  • and the child living with you is below minimum school leaving age;
  • and the child will live with you for more than 28 days.

We:

  • Have a duty by law to make sure the child's needs are being met in your care.
  • Can try to help you with any information or advice you need.
  • May be able to link you with some support systems.

Let us know by contacting:

  • First Response Team Manager
  • Children and Young People’s Services

    Northgate House,

    Halifax. HX1 1UN.
  • Telephone: 01422 393336

What will happen

We want to make sure that the child is safe, happy and well. We will put the child first and work in partnership with you and the parents. Responsible parents often make good arrangements for the care of their children and where this is the case we aim to intrude as little as possible, whilst safeguarding the child.

  • We will assess the child's needs and whether the private fostering arrangement is good for the child.
  • We will assess your suitability as carer, checking and involving other agencies.
  • We will help you and the parents to draw up a support plan for the child. This will include the child's emotional, educational, health and cultural needs.
  • We will provide information about other sources of help for you and the child.
  • We will monitor the situation.

What will be considered

The social worker will prepare a report about the suitability of the child's placement with you.

This will be presented to a group of people authorised to make decisions about children's placements.

The social worker will need to discuss:

  • The reasons for placement.
  • The difference between your role and that of approved foster carers.
  • The fact they must by law visit your home and inspect it for safety.
  • The importance of the child keeping in contact with parents and birth family.
  • Effects of separation and loss on children.
  • Your experience of looking after children.
  • Strategies you will have for dealing with difficult situations and behaviours.
  • Implications for the rest of your family and household.
  • Meeting the medical and dental needs of the child.
  • The child's education.

Will other people be involved?

  • You will be asked to sign a form to give permission for various checks to be done.
  • These are for safety reasons. They will be done for you and anyone in your household who is 16 years or older.
  • You will be asked to fill in a Criminal Records Bureau form to check for criminal convictions. Please note: Not all convictions debar a person from fostering.
  • You must give proof of identity to be sent with the form. This can be a passport or birth certificate.
  • The social worker will set in motion various record checks and checks with your GP and the NHS.
  • If there are any issues, they will be discussed openly with you.
  • The social worker must also make enquiries about the child's health and discuss any important issues.

Are some people not allowed to foster?

Some people are forbidden to foster privately, such as anyone:

  • Whose registration as a foster carer or childminder has been cancelled.
  • Who has a court order made against them for:
    • the removal of the child concerned;
    • or of any child from their care.
  • Who has been convicted of an offence of:
    • a violent;
    • or sexual nature against children or young people.

Other crimes, if serious or multiple can also debar from fostering.

A senior manager will take decisions about this depending on the nature and number of crimes.

What if I am approved?

A letter confirming this will be sent to:

  • you;
  • the child or young person and those with parental responsibility;
  • the social worker;
  • your GP.

Note: A social worker will visit you to discuss what happens next. This will take place within 10 days of the decision being made.

What if I am not approved?

You have the right to appeal against this decision.

  • This should be made in writing, within ten working days of you being told that you have not been approved.
  • Your appeal letter should include the reasons why you want to appeal against the decision.

Your appeal

This will be heard by our Private Fostering Appeals Sub Committee.

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you will have a further right of appeal to:

  • Calderdale Family Proceedings Court, Harrison Road, Halifax.

How should I treat the child?

You will need to make sure a child obeys sensible rules and does not put people in danger.

Important note: Private Foster Carers (or any adult) should never hurt children or make them feel frightened. If the child feels that you go too far or are too rough:

  • they have the right to let a social worker or any trusted adult know straight away.

Examples:

  • It is right to ask them to tidy their room and help with chores, as all children usually do.
  • It is wrong to ask them to:
    • clean the house from top to bottom;
    • or do something they are not old enough to do, like:
      • ironing;
      • or anything that might cause them to hurt themselves.
  • It is wrong for you to ask them to stay home to look after someone else. This is especially so if they miss school, get tired, worried or anxious.

In terms of discipline:

  • It is fine to:
    • tell a child off;
    • explain where they went wrong;
    • take away a privilege;
    • or ground them, if warranted.
  • It is wrong to hit, constantly undermine or verbally abuse a child or withhold food as a punishment.

If you are in any doubt or just need guidance, we will be happy to help!

Do's and don'ts

You will:

  • need to take care to give the basic needs to the child;
  • and may need to seek advice on certain actions.

Some things you should do:

  • Keep a child safe at all times and in all ways.
  • Give a child regular meals, like breakfast, lunch and supper.
  • Make sure a child can keep clean and have their hair and skin well looked after.
  • Make sure a child has warm, clean clothes and a bed of their own.
  • Make sure a child goes to school and has support to learn.
  • Take a child to the doctor or hospital if they:
    • are ill;
    • have an accident;
    • or need any vaccination.
  • Take a child to the dentist.
  • Make sure a child has a chance to make friends and enjoy sports and hobbies.
  • Help a child stay in touch with parents and other family members.
  • Help a child follow their religion and customs.

You must get parental permission to:

  • Change a child's name.
  • Change a child's school.
  • Move a child to another family.
  • Take a child to another part of the country.
  • Take a child to another country.

If a child needs serious medical treatment, it is best to seek permission. No child should be put in danger. If a parent cannot be found and it is an emergency:

  • the child must go to a doctor or hospital;
  • and doctors will take decisions about treatment based on what is in the child's interest.

A young person's guide to being in private foster care

This guide is to help you understand what being in private foster care is all about. It also tells you what to do if something makes you unhappy while you are in private foster care.

What is private foster care?

Being in private foster care means living with someone who is not:

  • your parent;
  • a close relative;
  • an 'official' foster carer arranged by the council.

If you are going to be living away from your relatives for more than a month, there are special rules.

The council will tell one of their social workers to make sure you are being properly cared for.

Will I be allowed to contact my family?

Yes. We think it is very important that you keep in touch with your family.

Why am I in private foster care?

This has probably been arranged by your parent and the person you are now living with.

It can be because:

  • your parent is ill;
  • your mum or dad has gone away to work or study and has asked someone else to look after you;
  • or there may be other reasons why your close family cannot look after you at home.

Whatever the reason, the main thing to remember is that it is not your fault.

Why does a social worker need to call?

They need to make sure that you are being well cared for. The council has to do this by law.

When we know that you are being privately fostered:

  • a social worker will call straight away;
  • and then visit you at least every six weeks.

What does the social worker do?

They will want to meet you and talk to you and your foster carers, but don't worry.

They will want to make this as easy for you as they can.

They are only coming to make sure you are comfortable, well and safe!

Will the social worker listen to me?

Ask the social worker their name. Get to know them well, so you are always able to give your opinion.

You can ask to see the social worker somewhere else if you cannot speak freely where you live.

Even if you feel a bit shy or fed up about it! It is your chance to let the social worker know if you:

  • have any worries;
  • and if you are happy with how things are.

We really want to be sure of this and we will listen and help.

Who decides if I am safe where I am?

The social worker will find out if the people looking after you can meet your needs and keep you safe. Then they will write a report about this.

Everyone in the house over 16 years old will be checked out in various ways. This is to make sure that it is safe for you to live there. We need to know if everyone is:

  • well;
  • able to look after you safely;
  • and if they have committed any crimes.

The social worker will talk to your carers and you about all of this before writing the report.

They pass the report to a group of people who decide if you are in a good place to stay.

Does there have to be meetings?

A group of people (called a panel ) will decide if you are in a good place to live. If they think you are, they will send a letter to:

  • you;
  • your carers;
  • and your mum or dad or the person who has responsibility for you.

Also, a social worker will visit within 10 days of the decision being made.

After a year there will be a meeting called a 'review'. This is to discuss:

  • how you are doing at school;
  • contact with your family;
  • your health and so on.

So you feel comfortable, this meeting is as friendly as possible. It usually takes place where you are living, but you can ask for it to be somewhere else.

Can anyone look after me?

We have a duty to keep children safe. So, there are some people who we will not allow to look after you.

If we think the people you live with are not able to look after you safely, we will tell them. We will also talk to you and your mum or dad or whoever is responsible for you.

We can then all think about if there is another person you can go to. Somewhere you can be cared for as you deserve.

We will all want to work together to find you the right place to live.

What should my carer do for me?

They should:

  • Keep you safe at all times and in all ways.
  • Give you regular meals like breakfast, lunch and supper.
  • Make sure you can keep clean and your hair and skin are well looked after.
  • Make sure you have warm, clean clothes and a bed of your own.
  • Make sure you go to school so you can learn.
  • Take you to the doctor or hospital if you are sick or have an accident or need vaccinations.
  • Take you to the dentist.
  • Make sure you have a chance to make friends and enjoy sports and hobbies.
  • Help you stay in touch with your parents or other family members.
  • Help you follow religion and customs that are important to you.

What should my carer not do?

They should not:

  • Change your name.
  • Change your school.
  • Move you to another family.
  • Take you to another part of the country.
  • Take you to another country.

What if I get very ill?

We hope you stay well, but if you need serious medical treatment, your parents' permission will be needed.

If they cannot be found, the most important thing is your health.

Doctors will still do what is needed for your safety and health.

Depending on your age, they must also take account of your own views.

What if I do something naughty?

Your carer will want to make sure you follow the rules of the home. This is so you do not do things that put you or anyone else in danger.

Important note: Private Foster Carers (or any adult) should never hurt you or make you feel frightened. Sometimes a carer might go too far. If you feel uncomfortable or unhappy, let a social worker or trusted adult know straight away.

Examples

  • It is alright for you to be asked to tidy your room and help with chores, as most children do.
  • It is wrong for them to ask you to:
    • clean the house from top to bottom;
    • or do something you are not old enough to do, like:
      • ironing;
      • or anything that might cause you to hurt yourself.
  • It is wrong for you to be asked to stay home to look after someone else. This is especially so if you miss school and get tired and worried.

If you do something wrong, it is right that your carer explains and teaches you what behaviour is acceptable by:

  • grounding you;
  • taking away a privilege or treat like watching TV or playing a game.

Important note: Carers should not hit you or do something like not give you food because you have been naughty.

What if I am not happy in foster care?

Tell your foster carer and talk to your social worker. What they do will depend on why you are not happy.

Lots of children of all ages are in foster care:

  • babies;
  • children at primary school;
  • and young people at secondary school.

Your social worker and your foster carer will work together to get the best for your future.

Other people can also help you:

  • The Children's Rights Worker

    Barnardo's

    75 Southgate,

    Elland.

    HX5 0ER.

    Telephone 01422 371993 

     
  • The Complaints and Compliments Officer

    See: Complaints and compliments.
  • Childline - Free service for any child feeling hurt or frightened

    Telephone 0800 111 111

    Website: Childline 
  • NSPCC - National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children

    Telephone: 0808 800 5000

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