Private fostering is a ‘casual arrangement’ where a person who's not a blood relative and has no legal order in place authorising the care of a child under 16 (18 with a disability) provides care for a non-stop period of 28 days (S. 66 Children Act 1989).
When it's not private fostering
If the person providing care is either a grandparent, aunt or uncle, cousin or older sibling, this isn't private fostering.
If there's any kind of legal order in place whereby the court has awarded responsibility to the adult to care for the child, this isn't private fostering.
Things to consider
The child might refer to the person as aunt or uncle. Are they, or are they just a family friend?
The chid might refer to the person as dad or mum – but are they? Have you asked for proof of parental responsibility if you're a professional and you provide a service to the child or family?
Why we need to know
It's vital that the local authority are notified if a child's living with someone who's not their parent or a connected person for longer than 28 days. The local authority needs to be satisfied that the placement is suitable and the child is safe. To be defined as ‘private fostering’ the child must be living with that person for longer than 28 days. This should be continuous, but can include short breaks.
Telling us about private fostering
If you're a professional, you have a duty to notify if you think a child is living with somebody and it falls under the definition of private fostering. You can contact us on (01226) 775876. Ask to speak to the private fostering social worker.