Private fostering is an arrangement made by parents, or someone with parental responsibility, for their child to be cared for away from home by another adult who is not closely related to the child. It is not considered private fostering if the carer is a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt or step-parent.
Children and teenagers under the age of 16 (or 18, if disabled) are considered to be privately fostered if they live with someone who is not a close relative, for 28 consecutive days or more.
The law states that parents and carers must notify Wiltshire Council's children's services department of any private fostering before the arrangement begins. If the arrangement has already begun we must be notified immediately. You will then be contacted by a social worker who will visit and discuss the arrangements with you. Children's services must make sure the child is safe, healthy and happy, and offer support and advice to private foster carers and parents where needed.
Teachers, health, and other professionals, have a responsibility to notify Wiltshire Council's children's services of any private fostering arrangement that comes to their attention.
- Children sent to this country, for education or health care, by parents who live overseas
- A teenager living with a friend's family because they do not get on with their own family, or due to any other family circumstances
- Children living with a friend's family because their parents' study or work involves unsociable hours, which make it difficult to use ordinary day care or after-school care
- Children staying with another family because of a family crisis such as parents' ill health or parents' separation
- A child from overseas staying with a host family while attending a language school
- Students at boarding school who stay with a host family during holidays
- Forces families where children stay with another family while their parents are deployed
You must notify children's services if:
- You are caring for someone else's child
- You are making arrangements for your child to be looked after by a person who is not a close relative
- You are a person who is aware of private fostering arrangements being made for a child
- You must tell us at least six weeks before a child comes to live with you.
- If the arrangement is made in an emergency, you must tell us within 48 hours of the child coming to live with you.
- You must tell us straight away if a child is already living with you and you haven't told us.
- You must tell us at least 48 hours before a child leaves your care. You'll also need to tell us where the child is going to live next.
- You must tell us as soon as possible if you are the parent of the child, or any other person involved in, or aware of a private fostering arrangement.
What happens next?
- A social worker will arrange a visit and speak to the carer and members of the private fostering household, in their own home.
- A social worker will also speak to the child and visit the parents, where possible.
- We will give you information about private fostering, including details of support and advice available in Wiltshire for the carer, the child and the parent.
- Private foster carers will have to give us information about the child, themselves, and other members of the household.
- We will look at the private fostering arrangement to make sure the child is safe and is being properly cared for.
- A social worker will visit the child regularly to offer support and make sure they remain safe and well cared for.
If you are under the age of 16, or 18 if you have a disability, and you are being looked after by someone who is not a close relative (for example, your mum, dad, auntie, uncle, or grandparents) for more than 28 days, which is about a month, then this is known as private fostering. The person caring for you is called a private foster carer, and your mum and dad or a close relative will have agreed that this person can look after you if they are unable to take care of you themselves.
If you are living with a private foster carer, your mum or dad or close relative and the private foster carer must tell the local council that you are living with someone else and not your parents or close relatives. Sometimes teachers, doctors, or school nurses may tell the local council too.
Children and young people get privately fostered for all sorts of reasons.
- Your parent, carer or close relative may be ill or unable to look after you until they are able to care for you again.
- You may have to come to this country to go to school, or to study at college, and you may need to stay with people who are not your parents or close relatives.
- If your parents come to this country to study or work, they may ask somebody else to take care of you.
- If your parents are deployed or posted with the military you may need to stay friends or other carers who are not close relatives.
- If, as a teenager, you are not getting along with your parents, carers or close relatives, you may go to live with a neighbour or your friend's parents until the problem can be sorted out
The Law says the council must make sure that you are well looked after where you are living. A social worker will visit you and talk to you about how you are feeling, and make sure that you are safe and well. A social worker's job is to make sure that children and young people are properly cared for.
The social worker will come to see where you live and will talk to both you and the private foster carer. He or she will also talk to your mum or dad to make sure that they know you are being well cared for. Even though you are living with a private foster carer, you will still be able to see your mum or dad, and arrangements will be made for you to have contact with them. Your parent/s are 'responsible' for you and must still make all the important decisions about your life, as you are still their child.
Your Kinship and Fostering social worker will visit at least every six weeks and talk to both you and your carer to make sure that you are okay. You can contact your social worker if you need to talk about anything that worries you, or to ask for some advice.
Your social worker will give you his/her contact details. If there is anything that you want to know it is okay to ask questions of your social worker and private foster carer. They will be able to answer most of your questions straight away or can find out the answers for you.
Private foster carers should give you a safe, happy, and caring home and look after you as if you were their own child. They should:
- Give you regular meals
- Make sure you have warm, clean clothes and a bed of your own
- Take you to the doctor if you are ill
- Take you tothe dentist to make sure your teeth are looked after properly
- Make sure you go to school to help you to learn
- Help you stay in contact with your family
- Make sure you have a chance to make friends and enjoy hobbies and sports
- Make sure you can follow your religion and customs that matter to you
It is important that all of your needs are being met and that you are able to do the things that are important to you. Your parents need to agree to any serious medical treatment. If it is an emergency and your parents cannot be contacted to give their permission, a doctor will decide what to do.
Your private foster carer may ask you to help with the chores like the other children in the family, but if you are asked to do chores or stay at home and look after an elderly or sick person, it is important that you tell your social worker.
Your private foster carer must not change your name or your school. They should not move you to another family, or take you to another part of this country or overseas without asking your parent's permission.
Kinship and fostering team
During office hours: 01225 716510
Out of office hours: 07909 938254
In an emergency: 0300 456 0100
Wiltshire Police: 101 (or 999 in an emergency)
Childline: 0800 1111 (National confidential support service for children and young people)
National Youth Advocacy Service helpline: 0800 616 101
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