22.1 Introduction & 22.2 Definition
Last updated 23/09/2021
This procedure applies to children who are cared for by people other than their parent or close relative for 28 days or more and who are NOT subject to any order or arrangement that would place them in the care of the local authority.
The legislation relevant to private fostering is set out in Part 9 of, and Schedule 8 to, the Children Act 1989, as amended by Section 44 of the Children Act 2004, and The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005, which replaced the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 1991. Reference should also be made to the Children Act Guidance on Private Fostering (2005) and the National Minimum Standards in relation to Private Fostering (2005).
Private fostering arrangements can be a positive response from within the community to difficulties experienced by families. Nonetheless, privately fostered children remain a diverse and potentially vulnerable group.
The private foster carer becomes responsible for providing the day-to-day care of the child in a way which will promote and safeguard his/her welfare but they do not have parental responsibility for the child. Overarching responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the privately fostered child remains with the parent or other person with parental responsibility. Local authorities do not formally approve or register private foster carers. However, it is the duty of local authorities to satisfy themselves that the welfare of the children who are, or will be, privately fostered within their area is being, or will be, satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted. It is the local authority in whose area the privately fostered child resides which has legal duties in respect of that child.
A privately fostered child is a child under 16 (or 18 if Disabled) who is cared for by an adult who is not a parent or blood relative, grandparent, aunt, uncle, step parent, sister or brother where the child is to be cared for in that person's home for 28 days or more.
The period for which a child is cared for by the private foster carer is continuous for 28 days or more, short breaks within the period of private fostering will not affect or end the arrangement.
A child who is “Looked After” by the Local Authority (a child placed in any residential home, hospital or school is excluded from the definition). In a private fostering arrangement, the parent retains Parental Responsibility.