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Private fostering

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A private fostering arrangement is essentially one that is made without the involvement of a Local Authority for the care of a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) by someone other than a parent or close relative for 28 days or more. A relative is defined in the Children Act 1989 as a grandparent, uncle or aunt (whether by full-blood, half-blood or by marriage or civil partnership), sibling or step-parent. Privately fostered children are a diverse and sometimes vulnerable group which includes: 

Children sent from abroad to stay with another family, usually to improve their educational opportunities;

Asylum-seeking and refugee children;

Teenagers who, having broken ties with their parents, are staying in short-term arrangements with friends or other non-relatives;

Children who stay with another family whilst their parents are in hospital, prison or serving overseas in the armed forces;

Language students living with host families

When to refer to Private Fostering

Answering a few simple questions will tell you when you must refer. 

Under the Children Act 1989, private foster carers and those with Parental Responsibility are required to notify the local authority of their intention to privately foster or to have a child privately fostered, or where a child is privately fostered in an emergency. 

Teachers, health and other professionals should notify the local authority of a private fostering arrangement that comes to their attention, where they are not satisfied that the arrangement has been or will be notified. 

When to refer to Private Fostering

Notifying Children's Social Care

To notify Warrington Children’s Social Care of the arrangement, ideally with notice, contact a social worker. Email childreferral@warrington.gov.uk  with basic details about the arrangement or call 01925 443400.

It is the duty of every local authority to satisfy itself that the welfare of the children who are privately fostered within their area is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted. The local authority must also arrange to visit privately fostered children at regular intervals. 

Read more on the Warrington Council website about private fostering.

Watch “Someone Else’s Child : A film about private fostering”

Pte Fostering - Someone elses child

Read about private fostering on the coram BAFF Adoption and Fostering Academy website

Private Fostering Awareness

Private Fostering - a guide for children and young people

Private Fostering - Carer's guide

Private Fostering - 7 Minute Briefing