A private foster carer is someone other than a parent or a close relative who cares for a child for a period of 28 days or more, in agreement with the child's parent. It applies only to children under 16 years, or under 18 if they are disabled.
Private foster carers can be part of the child's wider family, a friend of the family, the parents of the child's boyfriend or girlfriend or someone unknown but willing to foster the child. Close relatives - a grandparent, a brother or sister, an aunt or an uncle, a step parent - are not private foster carers.
Some of the common situations where children are privately fostered are:
- Where parents are unable to care for their children, for example if they have chronic ill health or are in prison
- Where children from abroard are sent to stay with relatives, often to improve their education
- Teenagers who have broken ties with their parents and are staying in the short-term with friends
- Those living with host families whilst taking courses of study
Children's Social Care is not involved in making private fostering arrangements but is responsible for checking that the arrangements are suitable for the child. As a professional it is important for you to notify Children's Social Care if you are in contact with a child or young person who is being privately fostered. This will help protect the child against abuse or neglect and provide some reassurance that the child is being looked after properly.
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