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Help with private fostering

Are you a parent, private foster carer or a child who may be affected by private foster caring? If so here's how we can help you.

How we can help parents

Under the Children Act 1989, we have a duty to make sure that the proposed arrangement will provide for the child's needs and safeguard his or her welfare.

These duties include:

  • work with parents to see if they need this arrangement and look at alternatives
  • make clear just how long the arrangement will last for
  • make sure that everyone involved is aware of the implications of these arrangements - this includes the views of the child
  • assessing the prospective private foster carers' and their family's suitability for the role
  • ensure that all the necessary requirements are met

We can stop a person from privately fostering if they, or their household, are considered unsuitable.

We can also impose restrictions upon the way a person may operate as a private foster carer. For example, the number of children they can care for or the length of time an arrangement should last. Although private foster carers have the right to appeal to a court against any such decisions.

How we can help a private foster carer

If you are thinking about caring for someone else's child, we will explain what this involves and provide advice on:

  • how to work with the child's parents
  • how to help the child you are caring for
  • your rights and responsibilities

How we can help the child

It is our first duty to ensure that the welfare of privately fostered children is safeguarded and promoted, while respecting the parent's right to make such arrangements. To ensure this happens:

  • arrangements will be made for the child to be visited at regular intervals throughout the arrangement
  • everyone, including privately fostered children, can ask us for advice or information

Some of the things parents need to know about private fostering

If you're thinking about placing your child with a private foster carer, the first thing you need to do is contact us:

  • at least 6 weeks before the proposed arrangement, and later within 48 hours of the arrangement commencing or immediately if the timescale is shorter
  • we will need you to complete a written notification of your intention

Even if you're arranging for someone else to care for your child, you remain responsible for them in all ways, so be aware that:

  • separation, even for short periods of time, can be emotionally damaging, especially for very young children
  • anyone who has cared for someone else's child for 3 or more years has the right to apply to a court for an order granting them parental responsibility

It will be your decision and it needs to be made with the best possible information.

You'll need to provide the private foster carers with as much information as possible to enable them to adjust their lives to accommodate the needs of your child − especially about how long the arrangement is to last, how you intend to maintain contact and continue to be involved your child's life. This information should be written down for them.

You'll need to include details about your family members and family friends, especially those with whom your child has a close relationship. You'll also need to provide the fullest possible information about his or her needs and routines, likes and dislikes, including details of their first language (if not English), culture, religion, diet, health and education. Most of all, you need to explain if your child has any special needs which come from disability or illness. In particular you'll need to give your written agreement for the private foster carer to be able to give consent for any medical treatment your child may need.

You'll remain financially responsible for your child and will need to agree the arrangements for meeting the costs of your child's care.

We would strongly advise you to have a written agreement signed by both parties setting out clearly how your child's welfare is to be safeguarded and what expectations you have of each other. By keeping this up to date and altering it as the need arises, there is less chance of any misunderstanding.

If you need more information or advice Call Derbyshire tel: 01629 533190.