Fostering someone you know
What is private fostering?
Private fostering is when a parent arranges for their child to live with and be cared for by someone who is not:
- a parent
- a close relative
- someone who has parental responsibility
A close relative is defined as a child's:
- brother or sister
- aunt and uncle (an aunt or uncle must be the sister or brother of one of the child's parents).
- These arrangements have to last for a total of 28 days or more.
- It does not matter if the carer is paid or provides care for free - it is still private fostering.
- Private fostering is different from public fostering, which is arranged and paid for by the council.
- Under private fostering arrangements, the law defines a child as someone who is under 16 or, if they are disabled, under 18.
What do I need to do?
What do I need to do if I think I may be privately fostering or I am planning to have my child privately fostered?
- If you are a parent, or anyone else involved in making private fostering arrangements, you must tell the council of your plans.
- Ideally this should be between 6 and 13 weeks before the child goes to live with private foster carer.
- If the private fostering arrangement happens in an emergency and is likely to last more than 28 days, you must tell the council as soon as possible.
Tell us about a private fostering arrangement
To notify the council about a private fostering arrangement, or to get more information, please contact the Referral and Assessment Service:
The Referral and Assessment Service
38 Laygate Place
Phone: 0191 456 4473
If you need to speak to a social worker in an emergency out of normal office hours (before 9am and after 5pm) phone the Out of Hours Team on 0191 456 2093 to speak to a social worker.
What happens next?
Once the council has been notified of an arrangement, they will arrange for a social worker to:
- Visit the home where the child will live and carry out some checks about the house and the carers, including criminal record checks
- Make regular visits to make sure that the child is safe and well cared for
- Make sure that advice is available to carers
- Say whether or not they find the arrangement acceptable
- Register if they find it acceptable and then make regular visits to continue to give you advice and ensure that the child remains safe and well cared for
The council has the power to stop a person from private fostering if the carer or the accommodation is not suitable.
It can also make requests about specific areas of concern, for example ensuring that a carer installs fire guards or smoke detectors.
Why does the council need to be involved?
South Tyneside Council want people who arrange for their child to be cared for by someone who is not close family to let us know and get support.
Notifying the council is also a legal requirement if you arrange for someone else to look after your child as a private foster carer.
The council does not want to disrupt the arrangements that you have made, but needs to know about the arrangement so it can check that children are safe and being properly cared for. The council also wants to make sure that you are getting the help you need.
Please remember that if you are involved in a private fostering arrangement and you do not tell the council, you are committing an offence and could risk a fine.
Private fostering related documents
Other sources of information
Visit the somebody else's child website
Watch the somebody else's child film - a guide to fostering for someone you know
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