What is Private Fostering?

Private fostering is an arrangement made by parent(s) (or someone with parental responsibility for the child) for someone who is not a close relative*, to care for their child for a period of more than 28 days.  It applies to children under the age of 16, or 18 if disabled.

A young person may choose to live elsewhere.  If they are under 16 (18 if disabled) and living with someone who is not a close relative*, for more than 28 days, this is also private fostering.

The local authority has a legal responsibility to assess and monitor private fostering arrangements.

A private foster carer is not someone who has been formally asked by the local authority to look after someone else’s child.

*A close relative is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, step-parent, brother or sister.

Organising a Private Fostering Arrangement

If you are planning on asking someone other than a close relative to care for your child, you must inform Warwickshire Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) 6 weeks before the arrangement begins.  If you have been unable to plan for it and circumstances mean that someone other than a close relative will be caring for your child, you must inform Warwickshire MASH within 48 hours of the care starting.

Warwickshire Social Care has a legal duty to ensure all children are cared for appropriately.  This includes safeguarding and promoting the welfare of privately fostered children.  Social Care can offer advice for parents, carers and children in respect of private fostering as well as assessing private fostering placements.

In a private fostering arrangement, parents retain parental responsibility.  This means that parents make decisions and choices for the child such as where they are educated, medical treatment and travelling abroad.  The private foster carer cannot make these decisions and cannot change a child’s name.

A Social Worker will be allocated to support you, your child and the private foster carers with the process giving you more information.

What should I do next?

Contact Warwickshire MASH on 01926 414144 to give details of the child, yourself and the prospective carers.  A Social Worker from the private fostering team will visit you, your child and the private foster carers to assess the arrangement.  This includes considering the:

  • suitability of private foster carers and others in the household
  • suitability of the accommodation
  • the length of time the child will live there
  • the wishes and feelings of the child
  • the health and education needs of the child
  • the contact arrangements  between you and your child
  • support to complete an agreement between parent(s) and private foster carers to address the above and consider the financial arrangements

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), local authority, GP and OFSTED checks are completed on the private foster carers.  Others aged over 16 living in the private foster carers household will be subject to DBS checks.  Following the assessment, a decision is made in respect of the suitability of the placement. Notification of the decision will be sent to the parent(s) and the private foster carers.

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Warwickshire Safeguarding Adults Board /
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Saltisford Buildings
Ansell Way
Saltisford, Warwick
CV34 4UL

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