Private Fostering

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A Briefing. . for all Professionals. . Introduction. Many children who are privately fostered are not known to the services, institutions or people working with them.. ID: 289128 Download Presentation

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Private Fostering

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Private FosteringA Briefing for all Professionals



Many children who are privately fostered are not known to the services, institutions or people working with them.Privately fostered children are much more vulnerable because of their ‘invisibility’ and because services do not always record and report information about them.Under new regulations, identifying, recording and reporting children who may be privately fostered is everyone’s responsibility – the responsibility falls on all those people or agencies who come into contact with children and young people in their work.



Private Fostering – A Definition

‘A private fostering arrangement is essentially one that is made privately (that is to say without the involvement of the Authority) for the care of a child or young person under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) by someone other than a parent or close relative with the intention that it should last for 28 days or more …. The period for which the child is cared for or accommodated by the private foster carer should be continuous, but that continuity is not broken by the occasional short breaks’(National Minimum Standard for Private Fostering DFES 2005)



What does that mean?

Private Fostering = a private arrangement when someone other than a close relative cares for a child for more than 28 days*Private arrangement = between parent and someone outside close family, not involving the local authority, (this is not a Looked After Child case and we may not know about it).Close relative = brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandparent (full blood, half blood, or by affinity, eg marriage), or other persons having parental responsibility. Someone else not a close relative is a private foster carer = a family friend, neighbour, Great aunty/uncle, cousin, great grandparents etcChild = up to his/her 16th birthday (18 if the child has a disability).* More than 28 days = is it intended that it will last more than 28 days? Then notify us. Don’t wait for the 28th day!



Private Fostering Legitimacy

A private fostering arrangement is legitimate if:The parents give informed consentThe Local Authority knows about and agrees with the arrangementNB: for some older children especially teenagers approaching 16, parents may know of their whereabouts but whilst not consenting choosing not to intervene. Effectively, this may be classed as private fostering.



What it isn’t?


Children and young people can live with and be cared for by their aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents without outside involvement, this is not classed as private fostering.


Some examples of private fostering arrangements

Children and young people who have moved in with friends or extended family relatives due to disputes or difficulties at home e.g separation or divorce.Children/young people with families overseas, or working away.Children/young people of minority ethnic groups with parents working or studying in the UK, who have arranged for them to stay with carers.Asylum seekers and refugees placed with distant relatives or other carers not approved as foster carers



Cont ……………..

Children/young people living with host families for a variety of reasons i.e. attending language schools, undergoing medical treatment, etcStudents at a boarding school who stay with a host family during the holidays.Trafficked children/young peopleNB: Private fostered children are often made more vulnerable by their living circumstances and by their status not being identified and reported to the local authority



Why is it important?

Privately fostered children are often made more vulnerable by their living circumstances and by their status not being identified and reported to the Local Authority.



Victoria Climbie

Victoria was brought to the Uk in 1999 from the Ivory Coast via France by her great aunt Therese-Marie Kouao and her partner, a stranger to the child. This was a private fostering arrangement as the great-aunt is not defined as a close relativeTherese-Marie Kouao offered Victoria’s parents the chance of a good education for their daughter.On 25 February 2000, Victoria died. She was systematically beaten and tortured and left to die of hypothermia and starvation.



Victoria Climbie

The Home Office Pathologist found 128 separate injuries on Victoria’s body and stated ‘it was the worse case of child abuse I have encountered’.In Lord Laming’s inquiry into Victoria’s death, he highlighted concerns about arrangements for children who are in private foster care.Subsequent guidance has emphasized the duty of local authorities to safeguard privately fostered children.



Legal Duties of the Local Authority

The 1989 Children Act states “It shall be the duty of every Local Authority to satisfy themselves that the welfare of children who are privately fostered in their area is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted, and to secure such advice is given to those caring for them as appears to the Authority to be needed”



The Children (Private arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005

Puts emphasis on:The need to notify the LA of all PF arrangements The duty to promote knowledge and awareness of PF in the public and agencies involved with Children and young people National Minimum Standards & OFSTED inspectionLow notifications = invisible children = safeguarding concerns



Continue ……..

The major changes ushered by the Children Act 1989 were the duty placed on both the carer and parent to notify an intention to place a child in private foster care. Additionally the Act limited the numbers of children whom a carer could foster to three.It is an offence under the Children Act 1989 not to notify the Local Authority of a private fostering arrangement.



What safeguards are in place to protect privately fostered children?



The National Minimum Standards

All local authorities (meaning schools, social care, other services for children and their families) have a duty to assess the suitability of private fostering arrangements.All private fostering child will be allocated a social worker and will be visited regularly by their social worker.The parent of the private fostering child retains parental responsibility during the private fostering arrangements.All services have a duty to:Promote awareness of private fosteringActively identify and report of a private fostering arrangementAct to safeguard and support privately fostered children



The Statistics – Key facts

Based on Year Ending March 2008:1330 children were reported as being cared for and accommodated in a private fostering in England (this is an increase on previous years.70% of privately fostered children are born in the UK.13% privately fostered children were born in Asia.The number of privately fostered children born in Africa dropped from 10% in 2007 to 6% in 2008.6% were born in Europe (other).Source:




Based on Year Ending March 2013 – Statistical Release :While the number of notifications of new private fostering arrangements has increased steadily over the past five years, the number of arrangements at 31 March 2013 (1,500) was at its lowest in five years.For the first time the majority of children privately fostered were born overseas.Source:



Cont ………..

It is estimated that about 10,000 children in England are privately fostered. It is likely that more than 50% of private foster placements are not notified to Local Authorities.Privately fostered children, without the protection provided through the regulations, are a particularly vulnerable group.




Research generally indicates:Lack of awareness of this law by the publicLack of awareness by professionals working in neighbourhoodsLow notifications are a problem across the country.



Proactive approach

Doncaster Council is taking a proactive approach to raise awareness of private fostering.Most effective is training professionals - through Level 3 Safeguarding Training and raising awareness continuously



Poster campaign for schools, health centres, libraries, GP and Dentists, children’s centres and other organisations working with Children and Young People.Press Release in Free Press.Information on Doncaster Council’s website & intranet.National Publicity campaignLeaflets for professionals, Leaflets for parents and carers.Leaflets for children and young people.

Raising the profile of private fostering in Doncaster throughout 2013 and beyond.



Whose responsibility?

Whose responsibility is it to report private fostering arrangements?It is the responsibility of everybody who comes into contact with children through their work to report instances of private fostering arrangementsThat includes you



How can you help?

Professionals in the education, health and social care fields need to be more aware of private fostering and be more proactive in identifying and notifying local councils of private fostering arrangements. Look for opportunities to pass on your knowledge to other groups and look for opportunities to raise the awareness of other professionalsNotify us if you know of a case that meets the criteria



If in doubt

If you are not sure whether a child you are working with is living in a private fostering arrangement seek advice from the Children Multi-agency Assessment and Referral Service (CMARAS).Alternatively, ask to speak to the Private Fostering Social Worker based in Fostering and Adoption Team for advice and guidance. But you will still have to make a referral to CMARAS




Most children in private fostering situations will be well cared for, but some may not. In the worst case scenarios children in private fostering arrangements can be subject to abuse and neglect. It is crucial therefore that local authorities know of all such arrangements.Notifying the local authority enables the child, parent(s) and carer(s) to access vital support and advice.



The Service we offer

An initial assessment within 10 days of notification A visit to the child and carer(s) completed within 7 daysA full private fostering assessment to be completed within 35 daysThis includes undertaking statutory check e.g Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) checks on all adults in the household.Monitoring visits 6 weekly for the first year, then 12 weekly thereafter. Support and advice for the carer to meet the needs of the child, e.g. benefits, tax credits (we do not fund the placement, the finances are the responsibility of the parent, but we can help sort this out).Support and advice for the fostered child to ensure their needs are safeguarded – someone to contact if things go wrong. Also support may be provided through Child in Need Plan.Action by the LA if the arrangement is deemed unsuitable.



Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Is it my role to enquire about the status of a child?Answer: Yes AbsolutelyYou should check that the parent of any child you come into contact with consent to their living arrangementsReport Private Fostering arrangements to the local authority.



Frequently Asked Questions

Question 2: But my organisation does not gather information about a child or young person’s living circumstances, isn’t that children Services' role?Answer: Its everyone’s duty to identify, verify, record and report any circumstances which may be private fostering, and to promote this with the children and families concerned. Victoria Climbie died because individuals, teams, agencies and systems fail to gather and share information.Children Services are responsible for assessing the suitability of the arrangements and visiting the child regularly.



Frequently Asked Questions

Question 3: I know of a child in this situation but everything seems fine, do I still have to report this to the Local Authority?Answer: Yes you do need to report this.No one can assume that everything is fine without checking. The local authority has a duty to assess the suitability of the arrangements and ascertain if the parent has actually given permission for the living arrangement before anyone can accept that the child has been safeguarded



Frequently Asked Questions

Question 4: What if the Local Authority knows about the arrangement but the living situation changes?Answer: Private Foster Carer should tell the Local Authority about significant changes during the private fostering arrangements within 48 hours.Significant changes include:A change of address; Someone joining or leaving the household; If any member of the household has court convictions, disqualifications, from private fostering, or limits on how many they can foster; the child leaves the private foster carer’s address; If the privately fostered child dies.



Frequently Asked Questions

Question 5: I know of a young person who is living in a private fostering arrangement, but if I informed the Local Authority I will be breaching the confidentiality. What do I do?Answer: You must tell the Local Authority. You will not be breaching confidentiality by notifying Children Services as you will be ensuring that the child and young/person is safeguarded.You should also tell the child/young person that you intend to inform the Local Authority.



More information is on the website: To notify Local Authority of a private fostering arrangement or possible arrangement, contact the Children Multi-agency Assessment & Referral Service through Customer Service on Tel: 01302 737777.OrFor general advice and queries sent an email to Florence – Private Fostering






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