Private fostering

Private fostering is when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is living with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more. This might be a friend, a great aunt, a cousin or someone else known to the child. A close relative is defined as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or step-parent by marriage.

Many parents who have arranged for someone else to care for their child don’t realise that they have entered into a private fostering arrangement when they have made informal arrangements with friends or extended family.

To keep vulnerable children safe and support families, by law parents and carers must notify their local authority if they have a private fostering arrangement in place.

There are many reasons why children are privately fostered. Such examples include:

  • Parental ill health
  • Children or young people from overseas who visit this country for education or health care reasons..
  • Children or young people who are living with a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home.
  • Children or young people whose parents work or study long or anti-social hours.
  • Children or teenagers on school holiday exchanges that last more than 28 days.
  • Children or teenagers who are on sports or music sponsorships living away from their families. 

 

As a parent, what do I need to know about private fostering?

Even though this is a private arrangement, the law says that the local authority must ensure your child is safe and well cared for.

If you are thinking of placing your child in a private fostering arrangement, you must tell the local authority at least 6 weeks beforehand or in case of an emergency placement, within 48 hours of the placement beginning. If the arrangement has already started, you must contact Leeds City Council immediately.

It is an offence not to inform the local authority about a private fostering arrangement.

 

Why Leeds City Council needs to be involved

Leeds City Council have a legal duty to safeguard the wellbeing of privately fostered children and young people. They check that the arrangements are safe, that the children and young people are well cared for and that their needs are being met.
If you are privately fostering a child / young person or are planning to, then you must notify us immediately, particularly if there are any changes to your arrangements, such as a house move, or someone in the house moves in or out or commits a criminal offence.
It is an offence not to tell the local authority about a private fostering arrangement.

 

What will Leeds City Council do?

They will work together with the child or young person, the parents and the private foster carers to ensure that the best possible arrangements are in place for the child or young / person.
This includes:

  • Regularly visiting the child / young person and listening to what the child / young person wants.
  • Arranging for a social worker to support the child / young person and carer/s.
  • Providing advice on benefits and other community or local services.
  • Assessing the suitability of the carer/s.
  • Helping to ensure that the child / young person is safe and well cared for and that their cultural needs are being met.
  • Deciding on further action to take if the arrangement is deemed unsuitable.
  • Conducting an annual review of the private fostering arrangement.

 

What are the expectations of the Private Foster Carer?

  • To provide a safe and caring place for the child / young person to live.
  • To ensure the arrangement of appropriate medical and dental care for the child / young person.
  • To ensure arrangements are made for the child or young person’s regular school attendance and that they receive appropriate educational opportunity to meet their full academic  and social potential.
  • To help the child / young person to keep in touch with their family where this is possible.
  • To work together with the children’s social work service for the benefit of the child or young person.

 

Private foster carers must also inform the local authority if:

  • They have had a child or young person removed from their care by an Order of the Court, or if their registration as a child-minder or day care provider has been cancelled or refused.
  • The child or young person moves to live elsewhere and the address and contact details of the child or young person’s new carer.
  • A child or young person in their care should die.
  • If the child or young person’s parents change address.
  • If the private foster carer changes address.

 

Who pays for the care of a child?

Financial responsibility for the child or young person remains with the parent who should arrange to pay the carer for the upkeep of the child or young person. The private foster carer can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits for the child or young person, subject to eligibility. The person receiving Child Benefit should let the Department for Work and Pensions know that the child or young person is to be privately fostered for longer than six weeks.


How to contact Leeds City Council

To notify the local authority about a private fostering arrangement or make further enquiries, please call: 0113 222 4403 or you can e-mail: privatefostering@leeds.gov.uk 
Further information is also available on: www.leeds.gov.uk
This information can be provided in large print, Braille, audio or a community language, please call: 0113 222 4403.