For many children living away from the family home, the best placement for them is a kinship placement with an immediate family member; uncles and aunts, for instance, or grandparents. For some families, though, this isn’t always possible, and the child goes to stay with a more distant family member like cousins or great-uncles and great-aunts, a family friend, a friend’s family, or an appropriate third party such as a host family for boarding school students. This arrangement is known as private fostering.
There are any number of reasons that a child might move into a private fostering arrangement: providing a supportive environment while parents are working unsociable hours or addressing relationship issues, a short stay while parents resolve housing or immigration issues, or a temporary visit to the UK to seek healthcare or education. For many who take on this kind of arrangement, knowing how to proceed and who to notify can be difficult.
As far as possible, private foster carers of a child aged under 16 (or 18 if the child is disabled) should advise the local authority’s First Contact Team of the arrangement six weeks before the child’s expected arrival date, 48 hours in an emergency, or as soon as possible if the recommended duration has passed. They should also, if possible, provide 48 hours’ notice when the child or young person leaves their care.
To notify the local authority of a private fostering arrangement please contact the First Contact Team on 01702 215007.