Private fostering is when a child is looked after in a ‘private’ arrangement by someone who is not a close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility. Close relatives include parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
It is not private fostering if the arrangement was made by Devon County Council, or if the person looking after the child is an approved foster carer.
People become private foster carers for all sorts of reasons. Private foster carers can be a friend of the child’s family, or be someone who is willing to care for the child of a family they do not know.
Common situations are:
- children and young people living apart from their families
- children with parents overseas
- children living with host families for a variety of reasons
- children on holiday exchanges which last more than 27 days.
Notifying Devon County Council
By law, Devon County Council must be told about all private fostering situations. The child’s parents, private foster carer and anyone else involved in the arrangement are legally required to inform us. If you are a professional (teacher, doctor, religious leader etc.) who is made aware of a privately fostered child, you should inform us.
People involved in private fostering must contact us in the following timescales:
- if the child is not yet living with private foster carers – six weeks beforehand
- if the child moves in with private foster carers in less than six weeks – immediately
- if the child is already living with private foster carers – immediately
We will work in partnership with the child, parents and private foster carer to make sure that the best possible arrangements are in place for the child. This includes:
- visiting the child and private foster carer
- helping to make sure that the child’s racial, cultural, linguistic and religious needs are being met
- offering advice and support to the child, their parents and private foster carer.
To notify the Local Authority of a private fostering arrangement please inform MASH on 0345 155 1071.