West Lothian Child Protection Committee
 

 


|  PRIVATE FOSTERING  |

What is Private Fostering?

Private Fostering is the term used when a parent or guardian places a child, who is under school leaving age, in the care of someone else who is not a close relative or an officially approved foster carer, for a period of more than 28 days.

Although the arrangement is private, the local authority Social Work department has an obligation to secure the welfare of every privately fostered child and therefore has to make a series of reports and checks.

Responsibilities of Local Authorities

When a local authority is notified of a private fostering arrangement, they must determine whether the placement is appropriate to the child's needs. In doing so they must:

  • Visit the child and their parent/guardian either before the placement is made or within two weeks of receiving notification, if that is later. this may mean visiting both parents and private foster carers if the child is already with the carer.

  • Obtain a statement on the child's health prepared by a fully registered medical practitioner.

  • As far as possible, ascertain the child's wishes and feelings regarding the placement, taking into account their age and understanding.

Once notified of the placement the local authority has continuing duties of visiting the child and must make other checks on the household of the private foster carer. These duties include:

  • Visiting the premises where the child will be living within one week of the placement being notified to check that they are adequate for the child's needs.

  • Interviewing the carers.

  • Obtaining a certificate from a fully registered medical practitioner stating whether the carers have any medical problems likely to adversely affect their ability as carers.

  • Preparing a written report on the outcome of the checks listed above, together with any other relevant written information, and deciding whether the placement is appropriate to the child's needs.

  • Giving written notification immediately to the parent and carer on whether they are satisfied or not that the placement is appropriate.

  • Visit the child at least every three months as long as the placement continues up to one year and, if it continues longer, visit every six months and also visit on other occasions as the authority considers necessary.

Parents & Carer's Responsibilities - Are you a Private Foster Carer?

Private Fostering is the term used when a parent or guardian places a child, who is under school leaving age, in the care of someone else who is not a close relative or an officially approved foster carer, for a period of more than 28 days.

You might be a Private Foster Carer without realising it. For example:

  • Are you looking after a friend's child while they work away from home?

  • Has your neighbour had trouble coping with a new baby and asked you to look after the baby for a few weeks?

  • Have friends from abroad asked you to let their child stay with you while they attend school here?

If so, this is Private Fostering and you have a legal responsibility to inform your local authority. There are many more examples and your social work department will be able to advise you if you are unsure.

The local authority has a responsibility to secure the welfare of all privately fostered children so they need to carry out a number of checks. The most important aspect of Private Fostering is the safety and welfare of the child and these reports and checks are there so that the social work department can provide you with any advice and support you might need.

Therefore, if you think that you may be, or are soon to be, a Private Foster carer, or if you are a parent or guardian who intends to place your child in someone else's care, please read the following guidelines. Your local authority can then help you ensure that the child is safe, happy and secure, not matter what their circumstances.

If you are a parent or guardian and you intend placing a child under school leaving age in someone else's care who is not a close relative or an approved foster carer for more than 28 days, this is what you should do:

  • At least two weeks before the placement begins you should contact your local authority's social work department and let them know what you intend to do.

  • If the child has been placed in someone else's care in an emergency, you should contact the social work department within seven days of the emergency.

  • You should give the social work department certain information in writing - this will include where the child will be placed, who will be responsible for their care and any other information which the social work department requires from you.

If you are planning to take someone else's child into your care for more than 28 days who is under school leaving age and not closely related to you, this is what you should do:

  • At least two weeks before the placement begins you should contact your local authority's social work department in writing and explain what you intend to do.

  • If the child is placed with you in an emergency, you must let the social work department know within seven days of the placement.

  • If you change address while caring for the child, you must inform the social work department in the area you are moving from and also the area you are moving to.

  • If the child dies, or is removed from your care, you should inform the social work department within 48 hours.

Please refer to the 'Useful Contacts' page for contact numbers for West Lothian Social Work offices.

 

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