A private fostering arrangement is when a child or young person under 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled) is being cared for and living with an adult who is not a close relative for more than 28 days.
The fostering arrangement is made privately between the parent and the person looking after the child. Lots of different situations count as private fostering, including children or young people:
Close relatives include:
Family friends, cousins, great aunts and uncles do not count as close relatives.
You are responsible for making sure your child is in a suitable and safe private fostering arrangement that provides for their:
A private fostering arrangement does not mean that you are giving up your rights to your child. This is a temporary arrangement and you still have parental responsibility and will continue to be involved in all decisions about your child’s life. It is very important that you stay in contact with your child as much as possible. That way you will know of any changes in the circumstances of the carer (for example if they go on holiday or move house).
You should come to a formal agreement with the private foster carer so that all parties are clear on expectations about their roles and responsibilities.
You should give important information about your child and provide as much detail as possible. This should include:
If a child is being privately fostered in the Lewisham borough, you need to tell us if you are:
If you think your child will be in this placement for 28 days or longer, you have a legal duty to tell us at least six weeks before the arrangement is due to start.
If the arrangement is due to start within six weeks, or has already started, you must tell us immediately.
If you are involved in private fostering, or are likely to be, you should contact us through the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH). You should also contact us if you’re not sure if you’re in a private fostering arrangement.
You should contact us and explain the situation. We will:
It is illegal not to tell us you are involved in a private fostering arrangement. If you don’t tell us you could get a fine.
We have a legal duty to make sure that:
We will visit to your child and their private foster carer regularly, and we can give help and advice.
You should contact us as soon as possible if:
Together we will do our best to make sure that your child is safe and well looked after.