Private Fostering

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Does someone else look after your child?

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative for 28 days or more. This is a private fostering arrangement made between a parent and a carer.

Close relatives include:

  • step-parents
  • grandparents
  • brothers
  • sisters
  • uncles
  • aunts

So for example, a cousin, neighbour or family friend looking after a child would be a private foster carer.

How is private fostering different from other types of fostering?

When some children cannot live with their own family or if they have problems at home, the local authority will arrange for a foster carer to look after them. When children are privately fostered it is the parents or person with parental responsibility rather than a social workers who choose the place where the child lives.

Even with a private fostering arrangement, the private foster carer and parents must follow rules and regulations to ensure the children in their care are safe and well cared for.

Why are children privately fostered?

There are many situations where children are privately fostered. These include:

  • Children or young people from overseas who come to Cardiff for education or health care.
  • Teenagers living with a friend’s family because they do not get on with their own family.
  • Children living with a friend’s family because their parents’ study or work involves unsociable hours, which makes it difficult to use ordinary day care or after school care.
  • Children staying with another family because their parents have divorced or separated, are hospitalised or imprisoned.
  • A child from overseas staying with a host family while attending school, or overseas students at boarding school who stay with a host family during the holidays.

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Are you living with a private foster carer?

While you are living with a private foster carer they should look after you as though you were their own child. They must do all the everyday things for you that parents do for their own children. But any decisions about your life e.g. if you need medical treatment, must still be made by the person who has parental responsibility for you.

Local authority duties and responsibilities

Under the 1989 Children’s Act, The City of Cardiff Council has a legal duty to safeguard the well-being of privately fostered children.

We must ensure that the child’s needs are being met. This means that they are:

  • safe and well looked after
  • healthy
  • receiving a proper education
  • being encouraged to reach their full potential
  • keeping in touch with people who are important to them
  • living with someone who helps them value their culture and sense of identity
  • properly supported when they become independent.

Despite this, many private fostering arrangements remain hidden, leaving children vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

In Cardiff all children who are privately fostered will have an allocated social worker who is responsible for ensuring their welfare is satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted. There is a statutory requirement for the social worker to visit and see the child at least every six weeks during the first year of the arrangement and at least every 12 weeks following that.

Letting us know about a private fostering arrangement

To help us keep children safe and support families, the law requires all parents and private foster carers to notify the Council’s Children’s Services within 6 weeks of:

  • Your child going to stay with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more, or
  • You starting to look after someone else’s child for 28 days or more.

If you know someone in a personal or a professional capacity you are also required to notify the local authority of someone who is going to be privately fostering or has started privately fostering a child or a young person.

If you are a parent who allows your child to be cared for by a private foster carer, or if you are a private foster carer and you don’t tell us, you are breaking the law. You could be prosecuted and fined.

What will happen after you have told us

We will:

  • give support and advice
  • make sure you have all the information you need and we have all the information we need
  • check that the private foster carer and other members of their household are suitable to look after the child – this will include a health check and a Disclosure and Barring (DBS) check.
  • check that the private foster carer’s home is safe
  • visit the private foster carer and your child regularly to make sure that all is going well.

What will happen if i don’t pass the checks?

We must decide if the private fostering arrangement is in the best interest of the child. We can stop a placement if we consider that it is not in the child’s best interests and we would contact the person with parental responsibility to ensure that they take appropriate action.

Contact us

If you need to tell us about a private fostering arrangement or would like to speak to us for more information please call:

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

029 2053 6490

Monday – Thursday 8.30am – 5pm

Friday 8.30am – 4.30pm

If you need to contact us outside of these hours please call the Emergency Duty Team on 029 2078 8570