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3.2 Recognising and Assessing Private Fostering Arrangements

RELATED CHAPTERS

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in February 2013 to include a link to the Greater Manchester Safeguarding Children Board Inter-Agency Procedures Manual.


Contents

  1. General Principles
  2. Definition
  3. Private Fostering - Specific Circumstances
  4. Notifications of Private Fostering Arrangements
  5. Children with Disabilities
  6. Orphaned Children
  7. Unaccompanied Children
  8. Assessment and Approval of Private Fostering Arrangements
  9. Supervision, Monitoring and Review of Private Fostering Arrangements
  10. Cross Boundary Issue
  11. Notification of Changes in Circumstances

    Appendix 1: Standard Letters/Proformas

    Appendix 2: Requirements, Prohibitions and Disqualifications

    Appendix 3: National Minimum Standards

    Appendix 4: Offences Associated With Private Fostering


1. General Principles

In the exercise of its legal duties in respect of Private Fostering arrangements it is the policy of Staying Safe to:

  • Strike an appropriate balance between the rights of parents, the rights of the child and the legal duties and responsibilities of the Local Authority to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • Be child focussed, ensuring the child's welfare, safety and needs are at the centre of the process and that arrangements for the care of Privately Fostered children are based on a holistic and lifelong view of the child's needs in order to maximise their life chances;
  • Consider the wishes and feelings of children at all times and ensure assessments of prospective carers focus on their ability to meet the needs of the child concerned;
  • Protect Privately Fostered children from Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse and Emotional Abuse, Neglect and exposure to domestic abuse;
  • Prevent unsuitable persons from engaging in the Private Fostering of children;
  • Work in partnership with parents, children, Private Foster Carers and their families, other professionals and agencies to ensure that services are provided to meet assessed needs;
  • Ensure there is a widespread awareness of Private Fostering notification requirements throughout the Borough;
  • Provide advice and guidance, where required, to those involved with private fostering;
  • Adhere to all legislative requirements and National Minimum Standards for Private Fostering;
  • Quality assure compliance and effectiveness of these procedures.

The Local Authority has a general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of Children in Need and, so far as is consistent with this duty, to promote the upbringing of children within their families. The legislation relevant to Private Fostering is set out in Part 9 of and Schedule 8 to, the Children Act 1989. This was further strengthened by measures in Section 44 Children Act 2004. This aims to address issues of poor notification and inconsistent response by Staying Safe to the needs of this group of children.

In respect of Privately Fostered children, Staying Safe has a duty to satisfy itself that the welfare of these children is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted and to provide necessary advice to those caring for them.

In relation to Private Fostering arrangements this includes:

  • Receiving notifications from parents, carers and others about Private Fostering arrangements;
  • Assessing and making decisions as to the suitability of the proposed arrangements, the Private Foster Carers and their families;
  • Assessing the child's needs and having a Private Fostering plan in place;
  • Supporting carers in meeting a child's needs;
  • Taking into account the need for any 'requirements', 'prohibitions' or 'exemptions';
  • Assessing applications for exemptions and implementing those where required;
  • Visiting and seeing the child alone in line with statutory requirements;
  • Reviewing and updating the Private Fostering plan;
  • Undertaking an annual review of the Private Fostering arrangement;
  • Providing advice and support to parents, carers and children involved in Private Fostering arrangements.


2. Definition

The Children Act 1989 Section 66 defines a Privately Fostered child as:

A child who is under 16 years, or 18 if disabled, who is cared for and provided with accommodation by someone other than:

  • His or her parent;
  • Another person who is not his or her parent but who has Parental Responsibility for him or her;
  • A child's relative - defined by the Children Act 1989 Section 105(1) as a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of full or half blood or by affinity i.e. marriage or civil partnership), or step-parent.

And the child has been or is intended to be cared for and accommodated by that person for 28 days or more;

A child is not Privately Fostered if they are cared for in any of the following:

  • Children's residential home/unit;
  • School in which the child is receiving full-time education - residential or boarding school;
  • NHS hospital where the child is a patient for 28 days or more;
  • Residential care home, nursing home or psychiatric nursing home or in a home/institution provided, equipped or maintained by the secretary of state.

Nor is a child Privately Fostered if:

  • The child is Looked After by the local authority;
  • Placed in the care of a person who proposes to adopt the child under arrangements made by an adoption agency in line with adoption legislation.

If a period of care lasts for 27 days or less but if it is intended that further periods are planned which total 28 days or more then Private Fostering procedures apply.

A break for a short period e.g. a weekend would not affect the total calculation of the number of days of placement. Such a break does not constitute the end of a Private Fostering arrangement.

Children under the age of 8 years cared for continuously for a period up to 27 days, which includes overnight stays, are subject of child minding regulations. If this timescale is exceeded then this becomes a Private Fostering arrangement. The calculation of whether this period exceeds 27 days includes weekend and short stays that together total 28 days or more over a 12 month period.

A person who from the outset intends to foster a child for 28 days or more becomes a Private Foster Carer on the day on which the child is first cared for.

A Private Foster Carer becomes responsible for day to day care which promotes the safety and welfare of the fostered child. Overarching responsibility for the safety and well being of a Privately Fostered child remains with the parent or person with Parental Responsibility. Parental Responsibility is not transferable.

Staying Safe do not formally approve Private Foster Carers or register them as Private Foster Carers. It is required to satisfy itself that where Private Foster Care arrangements are made, they are safe and satisfactory in every respect, and meet the needs of the child.


3. Private Fostering - Specific Circumstances

3.1 Independent Schools/Sports Academies

Where a child under 16 years is a pupil at an independent school or sports academy and lives at the school during school holidays for a period of more than 2 weeks, s/he should be regarded as a Privately Fostered child.

The person who proposes to care for one or more children at the school will be treated as a Private Foster Carer. They must give written notice to Staying Safe giving the estimated number of children concerned and not less than 2 weeks before the arrangement commences.

Staying Safe may exempt any person from giving notice - for a specific period or indefinitely. Exemption may be revoked at any time by notice in writing.

Where a child ceases to be Privately Fostered the school shall give written notice to Staying Safe.

Where a Privately Fostered child dies the school must notify the parent, person with Parental Responsibility and Staying Safe immediately.

On other occasions a parent may make arrangements for children from abroad who are being educated in this country, to be cared for by friends or family or 'host' families during weekends and school holidays. These arrangements may constitute Private Fostering if they are to be for more than 27 days during a year and are not with relatives as defined by the Children Act 1989.

Guardianship organisations who arrange placements with host families have a duty to notify the Children's Services in the area in which the host family lives if the placement is intended to last for more than 28 days. Staying Safe key relationship is with the Private Foster Carer in these circumstances and not the organisation.

3.2 Summer Schools

When an organisation arranges a summer school where children are to stay either at the school or with host families for 28 days or more this constitutes a Private Fostering arrangement and Staying Safe should be notified.

3.3 Language Schools

Children attending language schools, that are cared for by 'host families' for a period of 28 days or more, should be regarded as a Privately Fostered and Staying Safe should be notified.

3.4 Cultural Exchange Visits

Children often come to this country on cultural exchanges arranged by their schools. In these circumstances children often stay with 'host' families and these arrangements may come under the remit of Private Fostering.

The schools arranging these visits should formally notify the Children's Services in whose area the host family resides prior to the arrangement starting.

3.5 Children Accessing Medical Treatment

Children sometimes come to this country to access medical treatment and are sometimes unaccompanied. Parents or other organisations may have made arrangements for the child's care which constitutes Private Fostering. The parent and organisation have a duty to inform Staying Safe, but it is expected that health professionals will alert Staying Safe in these circumstances.

As a general rule where a notification is received in relation to any of the above circumstances, procedures should be followed as for any other Privately Fostered child.

3.6 Insurance

A Private Foster Carer is liable for their own insurance and should be advised during the assessment period to inform in writing their 'home contents' insurers of the Private Fostering arrangement. The Privately Fostered child should be included under the public liability insurance clause.

3.7 Advertising

Advertising by and for Private Foster Carers is permitted provided the advertisement indicates that the arrangements proposed constitute Private Fostering and state the name and address of any person proposing to arrange or undertake the Private Fostering arrangement.


4. Notifications of Private Fostering Arrangements

4.1 Making a Notification

Private Arrangements for Fostering Regulations (2005) Regulation 3 require that:

  • Any person who proposes to privately foster a child must notify Staying Safe of the proposal at least 6 weeks before the date on which the Private Fostering arrangement is to begin or immediately if the arrangement is to start inside 6 weeks or has already started;
  • Any person, parent or person with Parental Responsibility who is involved in arranging for a child to be Privately Fostered must notify Staying Safe at least six weeks before the arrangement is due to start or as soon as possible after the arrangement is made if this arrangement is to start within six weeks or has already started;
  • A parent or person with Parental Responsibility for a child who is not involved in arranging for the child to be Privately Fostered but who knows that it is proposed must notify Staying Safe as soon as possible after they become aware of the arrangement.

Notifications of proposed, perceived or existing Private Fostering arrangements may arrive in writing or a telephone call from a parent, prospective or existing private foster carer or from a worker. Where a notification is in respect of a child or children:

  • Not already in receipt of services from a Bolton social work team, the notification will be taken and assessed by the Referral and Assessment Team and recorded on ICS;
  • Already in receipt of services from a social work team the notification will be taken and assessed by the team providing services and recorded on ICS, this includes those children open to the Children with Disabilities Team;
  • Who has a disability but is not in receipt of services from Children with Disabilities Team, the notification will be taken and assessed by the Referral and Assessment team initially - it may be that the Assessment will be assessed jointly between the Referral and Assessment team and the Children with Disabilities Team.

The notification must include as much of the following information as possible:

  • Name, sex, date and place of birth, religious persuasion, racial origin, cultural and linguistic background of the child;
  • Details of the child's school, GP, dentist, health visitor where applicable and any other service provided to the child;
  • Details of the child's health needs or any prescribed medication the child requires;
  • Name and current address of the child's siblings and details of arrangements for the siblings care;
  • Name and current address of any other individual who is currently caring for the child, and addresses over the previous 5 years;
  • Name and current address of the proposed or current Private Foster Carer and addresses over the previous 5 years;
  • Name and current address of parent(s) of the child and addresses over the previous 5 years;
  • Name and current address of any other person with Parental Responsibility for the child and addresses over the previous 5 years;
  • Date on which it is intended the Private Fostering arrangement will start or on which date it started if it has already commenced;
  • Intended duration of the Private Fostering arrangement;
  • Name, address and contact details of the referrer if the notification is made by a worker and the reason for them making the referral at this time;
  • Whether any criminal offences committed by the Private Foster Carer or others living in the household;
  • Whether the Private Foster Carer has previously had children removed from their care or has been unregistered as a child minder or as a manager of a residential children's home;
  • Information about other children Private Foster Carer provides care for (including their own) with particular reference to any child protection involvement.

Notifications that are received from professionals relating to Private Fostering arrangement, the consent of parents or those with Parental Responsibility in respect of making enquiries can be waived. Workers making notifications should be followed up in writing using the CAF. Good practice would be to encourage the worker making the notification to inform the known parties that they have made the notification and the reasons for this.

4.2 Immediate Response to a Notification

On receipt of a notification that a child is to be or is being Privately Fostered the social worker is responsible for ensuring that within 5 working days the following is sent or given to the parent of the child concerned or person with Parental Responsibility:

  • Letter confirming receipt of the notification and their intention to make, or have already made, a Private Foster Carer arrangement;
  • Consent Form to seek information from other agencies;
  • Leaflet - Private Fostering information - What Happens Next?

And to prospective Private Foster Carers:

  • Letter confirming receipt of the notification and their intention to make, or have already made, a Private Foster Carer arrangement;
  • Consent Form to seek information;
  • Request for Private Foster Carer to nominate two references;
  • Leaflet - Private Fostering information - What Happens Next?

In the event that the child is normally resident in another local authority the social worker should send to the home authority:

  • Letter informing of proposed/actual private fostering arrangement.

NB: Templates for the documents outline above are in Appendix 1: Standard Letters and Pro Formas (PF1-PF4).

On receiving a notification of an actual or potential Private Fostering arrangement, social workers must:

  • Review ICS to establish if any of those identified are known to have been previously known to Staying Safe;
  • Undertake an initial visit to the premises where it is intended the child will be Privately Fostered or where the child is already being fostered within 7 working days;
  • Speak with the Private Foster Carer and all members of the household making sure to confirm and record details of all members of the household, including children already living at the home;
  • Speak with the child whom it is proposed will be Privately Fostered, alone unless the officer considers it inappropriate (an interpreter should always be used where the child's preferred language is not English);
  • Speak to and, where possible and practical, visit the parents or person with Parental Responsibility for the child;
  • Discuss the need to contact other practitioners or organisations for information to inform the assessment;
  • Create electronic records for the child and the Private Foster Carer or carers;
  • Contact the home authority if the child has moved from another Local Authority area and seek historical information from services in that area.

During the course of this visit the social worker is required to establish the following:

  • Wishes and feelings of the child, including their understanding of the arrangement, the reasons for it, how long it will last and how they feel about it;
  • Intended duration of the arrangement and that the timescales are understood by all parties including the child;
  • Immediate ability of the proposed Private Foster Carer to look after and meet the needs of the child;
  • Immediate suitability of other members of the proposed Private Foster Carers household;
  • Arrangements for contact between the Privately Fostered child and their parents, siblings or anyone else significant in their life and these are understood by all parties;
  • Suitability of the proposed accommodation;
  • Financial arrangements for the care and maintenance of the child have been discussed and agreed;
  • Necessary steps have been taken to ensure the education and health of the child;
  • It is clear and agreed by all parties how decisions are made about the day to day care of the child, including where there may be a need to make emergency or urgent decisions;
  • Need for additional advice, support or services by the child, Private Foster Carer, parent or person with Parental Responsibility;
  • Review any written agreements between the Private Foster Carer and the parents;
  • Confirm sight of relevant documents which prove those making the arrangements have Parental Responsibility and authority to do so, in particular the child's birth certificate and Residence Orders / Child Arrangement Order or equivalent;
  • Confirm sight of documents that confirm the child's details, particularly where the child is from abroad, in particular seeing the child's passport, travel documents and/or identify papers;
  • Any issues in relation to the fostering limit.

Where Private Fostering arrangements have been made and are in place without the prior notification to Staying Safe consideration should be given as to whether the parent or person with Parental Responsibility should resume care whilst further assessment is undertaken.

Clearly this decision will be influenced by a number of factors including how long the child has been living with the Private Foster Carer, the relationship and attachment between the Private Foster Carer and the child, and the child's wishes and feelings.

Whatever decision is taken it should be clearly recorded on the child and Private Foster carers records along with the reasons for reaching the decision. This decision should be endorsed by a District Manager. If a decision is made for a child to remain with Private Foster Carers during the assessment process, the child's social worker must ensure the child is visited on a weekly basis pending the outcome of the Assessment.

If the initial information indicates that the current Private Fostering arrangement is not safe or the child may be suffering, or at risk of suffering, Significant Harm then child protection processes should be initiated and the immediate safety of the child addressed.

Where the initial information gathering and visits identify the proposed arrangement may be unsuitable, consideration should be given as to whether any requirements, prohibitions or disqualification should be urgently implemented without any further assessment being completed. For further information on using these processes refer to Appendix 2: Requirements, Prohibitions and Disqualifications.


5. Children with Disabilities

As stated previously, this guidance should be applied to all children with a defined disability up to the age of 18. Private Fostering arrangements for children with a disability should be assessed using the same processes. Where a child is in receipt of services from the children with disabilities team the assessment should be carried out by workers from that team. Where there is no involvement from Staying Safe, the Private Fostering Arrangement will initially be assessed by the Referral and Assessment Team. Depending on the severity if the child's disability it may be that the case is transferred either to a district LAC team or the children with disabilities team.

A disabled child who has been Privately Fostered after the age of 16 years qualifies (even if he is no longer Privately Fostered) for advice and guidance until the age of 21 years in the area in which he is resident. Children's Services may advise, assist and befriend the young person if they request such support. Assistance may be in kind or in exceptional circumstances include financial support. This support will be provided by the Leaving Care Team.


6. Orphaned Children

There may be occasions when children become Privately Fostered because a parent has died and the other partner has no legal responsibility for the child or is not a relative as defined by Section 105 (1) Children Act 1989. In these circumstances if the intention of the surviving partner is to continue to provide care for the child, they should be advised to seek legal advice in relation to either a Child Arrangement Order or a Special Guardianship Order.

Staying Safe should make every effort to identify and contact the parent, a close relative as defined by the Children Act 1989 or someone with Parental Responsibility. Staying Safe should consider and assess this as a Private Fostering Arrangement until the conclusion of legal proceedings.

If the surviving partner does not wish to provide care and there are no relatives who can assume the parenting role, then it is likely that Care Proceedings would need to be issued.

In all circumstances, these cases should be discussed in full with the Team Manager, District Manager and where agreed, Legal Services.

See Services for Children with Disabilities Procedure.


7. Unaccompanied Children

Where an unaccompanied child is identified as living in, or about to enter, a Private Fostering arrangement a notification should be made to Staying Safe.

Staying Safe should make every effort to identify and contact the parent, a close relative as defined by the Children Act 1989 or someone with Parental Responsibility. Where a suitable person cannot be identified it is likely that Care Proceedings will need to be initiated.

Cases such as these, should be discussed in full with the Team Manager, District Manager and where agreed, Legal Services.

See Safeguarding Children Coming In From Abroad Procedure.


8. Assessment and Approval of Private Fostering Arrangements

8.1 Single Assessment - Purpose and Outcome

The Single Assessment of the Private Foster Carer and the fostering arrangements should be given high priority. The Single Assessment must be completed within 45 days and should be undertaken by a social worker (Note: Within this context, the 45 days includes the entire assessment process).

The Single Assessment should seek to initially establish whether the proposed arrangements fall within Private Fostering regulations and thus further, more additional Assessment is required. The Assessment will also identify those areas of work required to ensure the arrangement meets the National Minimum Standards - (See Appendix 3: National Minimum Standards).

At the outset, it is important that the Single Assessment in respect of a referral about a Private Fostering arrangement determines:

  • The needs of the child whom it is proposed to be Privately Fostered or the needs of a child who is already Privately Fostered in order to determine whether they should remain in placement pending the outcome of a Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment or should be returned to the care of their parent or person with Parental Responsibility or alternative arrangements made;
  • Whether the child is normally resident within this authority area and where this is not the case establishes and makes contact with the home area;
  • The potential of supporting or rehabilitating the child within their own family;
  • Complete an initial plan to ensure the immediate needs of the child are met.

The Plan ensures a written agreement between the Private Foster Carers and the parent or person with Parental Responsibility regarding the day to day care of the child, financial maintenance, pattern of contact and expected duration of the placement pending the outcome of the Assessment.

All parties should receive a copy of the Single Assessment and the plan. A copy should be placed on both the child's and Private Foster Carer's files.

8.2 Single Assessment (Additional Development) - Purpose and Outcome

The purpose of the additional Single Assessment work is to ensure that the Private Fostering arrangement safeguards and promotes the welfare of the child. It should also explore and develop any issues raised during the Initial Assessment. The needs of the child should be assessed, analysed and planned for in accordance with the current statutory requirements for completing Assessments. Where the analysis indicates that the child is a Child in Need, the plan should clearly identify this and the steps to be taken to address the child's needs.

The Single Assessment should then ensure that formal police checks on all members of the household, 18 or over, are completed on all persons and two personal references sought and visited for the primary foster carer or carers.

The Single Assessment of private fostering arrangements should then recommend the suitability of the arrangement and clearly identify:

  • The evidence for the recommendation;
  • If there are any needs the arrangement cannot meet;
  • An exemption to the fostering limit is required;
  • The need for any requirements, prohibitions or disqualifications; providing relevant evidence.

The completed assessment should be shared with all parties and a copy provided to the parent or person with Parental Responsibility, the Private Foster Carer and where appropriate the child.

8.3 Approving Private Fostering Arrangements

While Staying Safe does not register Private Foster Carers, it does have a legal duty to assess and endorse the suitability of a person to be a Private Foster Carer, to impose appropriate requirements and impose prohibitions where required.

On completion of the Assessment, it will be the responsibility of the relevant District Manager to consider the assessment of Private Foster Carer or carers and the proposed Private Fostering arrangements. It will be their responsibility to approve the arrangement. Where they may have concerns about the suitability of an arrangement, particularly where there may be existing requirements, they should discuss the matter with the Assistant Director Staying Safe. In these cases they should jointly reach a decision about the suitability of the arrangement.

If the assessment indicates that the proposed arrangements made for the care and accommodation of a child will be not suitable (or that the arrangement for a child who is already Privately Fostered is not suitable) requirements will be imposed on the Private Foster Carer. If appropriate, steps can be taken to prohibit the arrangement. In both cases the Private Foster Carer, the parents or those with Parental Responsibility for the child should be informed.

If at any point during the assessment or approval stages it becomes evident that an offence has been committed in relation to Private Fostering the police should be notified and a Strategy Meeting convened as soon as possible. Appendix 4: Offences Associated With Private Fostering provides further information about offences related to Private Fostering.

The Private Foster Carer and the parents, or those with Parental Responsibility for the child, should be informed of the outcome of the approval in writing within 5 working days, where necessary advised of their right to appeal and how to do this.

8.4 Appeals

Where a Private Foster Carer does not agree with the outcome of the assessment, the requirement or prohibition they have a right to appeal.

Where a Private Foster Carer may dispute the contents, accuracy or outcome of an assessment they also have a right to make a complaint. This should be made using existing complaints procedures for Bolton Children Staying Safe.

Where there is an appeal about a requirement or prohibition, this should be made by the Private Foster Carers, to the family proceedings court within 14 working days of being advised.


9. Supervision, Monitoring and Review of Private Fostering Arrangements

Responsibility for managing the case will transfer to the relevant LAC team once the assessment and plan have been completed and the arrangement agreed.

The frequency of social work visits should be determined by the circumstances of the case and should take place whenever reasonably requested by the child, Private Foster Carer or parent/person with Parental Responsibility, however visits should be carried out as a minimum:

  • Within one week of placement (or of notification of placement);
  • Not less than every 6 weeks during the first year of placement;
  • Not less than every 12 weeks after the first year of placement.

Every visit should be recorded on ICS and clearly identified as a visit carried out under Regulation 8 of the Private Fostering Regulations. Visits should be a combination of announced and unannounced visits. The worker should ensure that the purpose of the visit is explained to the private foster carer and the child. For each visit an interpreter, independent of the child's parents and private foster carer, should be used where the child's preferred language is not English.

The purpose of the visit is:

  • To safeguard and promote the child's welfare - the child's bedroom should be seen on some visits and some visits should occur when all members of the household can be seen;
  • To ensure that arrangements continue to meet the child's needs as outlined in the Private Fostering plan;
  • To ensure the child's wishes and feelings are being heard, the child should be seen alone on every visit unless it is deemed inappropriate; where the child is not seen alone this should be recorded and the reasons for this;
  • Ensuring any requirements or prohibitions imposed are being met and whether they need to be changed or cancelled;
  • To see on every visit the carer's file in respect of the child;
  • To ensure that parents are fulfilling their parental responsibilities for the child, that adequate financial maintenance is being provided and that contact arrangements are satisfactory;
  • To ensure that carers and parents or those with Parental Responsibility are in receipt of appropriate advice and support from relevant professionals e.g. health and education professionals.

It is an offence for a Private Foster Carer to refuse to allow a child to be visited by a social worker.

The child's Private Fostering plan should be reviewed within 3 months of the arrangement being agreed and then 6 monthly thereafter. The reviews will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer and should include attendance by the Private Foster Carer, parent or person with Parental Responsibility, the child (where age appropriate and they want to) and any agency or worker directly providing services to the child.

Notes from the meeting should be completed by the Independent Reviewing Officer and distributed by the LAC administrator within 10 working days of the review meeting.

It will be the responsibility of the District Manager to formally review the Private Fostering arrangement on an annual basis.


10. Cross Boundary Issues

Should the child normally be resident in another area, but the Private Fostering arrangement is made in Bolton, it is Bolton's responsibility to assess and approve the arrangement. However it will be important for the home Children's Services to be notified of the arrangement and their views sought as to the suitability. The relevant team manager must discuss the case with the relevant manager in the home authority in order that clear roles and responsibilities can be defined.

Where a child has ongoing social work involvement with the home authority, the team manager from Bolton should discuss this with their equivalent in the home area as to how best to proceed with the assessment.


11. Notification of Changes in Circumstances

11.1 Changes to Care Arrangements

Private Foster Carers must notify the local authority of certain changes of circumstance. Preferably this should be done in advance or within 2 working days of the change happening. These notifications should be made in writing and can either be via email or letter. Text is not acceptable. The information should be recorded on ICS accordingly in the child's and the Private Foster Carer's electronic record.

The following notifications are required:

  • Any change of the Private Foster Care address;
  • Any person who begins or ceases being a member of the household;
  • Any new conviction, disqualification or prohibition of any person living in the household or employed in the household;
  • If the Private Fostering arrangement ends, stating the name and address of the person into whose care the child has moved;
  • Death of the Privately Fostered child. In this case the carer must also notify the parent or person with Parental Responsibility.

In the event that the Private Foster Carer has moved with the Privately Fostered child to another area, or a Local Authority area in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, the social worker must notify the receiving authority in writing and the following information provided:

  • The name and new address of the Private Foster Carer;
  • The name of the child who is being Privately Fostered;
  • The name and address of the child's parents or person with Parental Responsibility;
  • Any particular health or education needs of the child; it may be relevant to share information in relation to the Assessment and any review.

The social worker should ensure that all relevant agencies, including the home authority (where relevant) and individuals are made aware of any changes in circumstances for the child.

Where a Privately Fostered child is identified as being missing with their Private Foster Carer the usual process for alerting agencies locally and nationally of a missing child should be initiated and the District Manager notified.

11.2 Ending Private Fostering Arrangements

The parents or person with Parental Responsibility of Privately Fostered children are required to notify the Local Authority if they intend to end of the Private Fostering arrangement. The notification to end the arrangement should include the name and address of the persons into whose care the child has moved and their relationship to the child. These notifications should be made in writing and can either be via email or letter. Text is not acceptable.

The information should be recorded on ICS in the child's and the Private Foster Carer's electronic record and clearly show the ending of the arrangement.

Social workers should advise and assist parents/person with Parental Responsibility in planning the child's return home or to alternative carers. Wherever possible such moves should be planned and the child prepared for the move.

The social worker must inform other statutory agencies including the home Children's Services (where relevant) of the ending of a Private Fostering arrangement, the new address, carer details and their relationship with the child.

11.3 Death of a Privately Fostered Child

If a child dies, the Private Foster Carer must immediately notify the parent and social worker of the death. If this is a sudden death the police will be involved and Sudden Unexpected Death Of Child (SUDC) procedures will be initiated.

The social worker should inform their manager and District Manager of the child's death. Contact should be made with the carer and parents to offer support and advice.

Local Safeguarding Children's Board procedures should be consulted in respect of the required response to unexpected child deaths:

  • LSCB 16 Serious Case Reviews;
  • LSCB 36 Sudden Unexpected Death of a Child.


Appendix 1: Standard Letters/Pro Formas


Appendix 2: Requirements, Prohibitions and Disqualifications

Requirements

The Local Authority has the power to impose requirements on private foster carers as to the:

  • Number, age and sex of the children who may be privately fostered. Part 6 of Schedule 8 Children Act 1989 prescribes the usual fostering limit to not more than three children. This applies to private fostering arrangements; this limit does not apply if all the children are siblings;
  • Standard of accommodation and equipment to be provided for them;
  • Arrangements to be made with respect to health and safety;
  • Particular arrangements which must be made for a particular child.

The Local Authority must inform private foster carers of the imposition of a requirement in writing with reasons, informing them of their right to appeal and the time limit for doing so. It is advisable to inform the private foster carer of the intention to implement a requirement advance to allow time for informal negotiation and compromise. Legal advice should be sought when seeking to impose a requirement on a private foster carer.

Requirements do not have effect while an appeal is pending. If a private foster carer does not comply with a requirement the local authority should consider whether it is appropriate to impose a prohibition.

Examples of requirements:

  • You must ensure opportunities for the child to have play and other experiences which reflect his/her own race and culture;
  • A file should be maintained with all records pertaining to child/family.

Additional safety requirements are...

Prohibition

The local authority has the power to prohibit individuals from privately fostering children if they are of the opinion that:

  • The person is not suitable to privately foster a child;
  • Their premises are not suitable for private fostering;
  • It would be prejudicial to the welfare of the child for them to be accommodated by that person in those premises.

Local Authorities are encouraged to use the power of prohibition where it is necessary to enforce requirements. Legal advice should always be sought when considering imposing a prohibition.

A prohibition must be sent in writing to the person on whom it is being imposed, specifying reasons and providing information about the right to appeal and the time limit for the appeal.

The child's parents should be fully informed and advised to remove the child from the private fostering arrangement. In some circumstances the authority may need to consider taking action to safeguard the child's welfare e.g. if the parents are not in the country or are in custody.

Persons on whom a prohibition has been imposed are disqualified from private fostering, from carrying on or being employed in a children's home, voluntary home, day care or child minding. Where it is known a prohibited person is working in one of these settings all reasonable steps should be taken to notify the setting. This may include seeking advice from the Local Authority Designated Officer.

Local authorities may cancel a prohibition if they are satisfied that the prohibition is no longer justified.

Disqualification

A person is disqualified from private fostering under Section 68 of the Children Act 1989 if they have been:

  • Convicted at any time of 'specified' offences which include; abduction of children, offences relating to child minding and day care, relating to previous private fostering, relating to voluntary homes and children's homes, offences relating to importing of indecent images of children and an offence by virtue of Sex Offenders Act 1997;
  • Convicted of an offence against a child;
  • Subject of an order with respect to a child so as to remove the child from his/her care or prevent the child from living with them i.e. Care Orders or equivalent, Supervision order with a residence requirement etc;
  • Refused registration in relation to a voluntary home or a children's home or was concerned with the management of or had a financial interest in a voluntary or children's home the registration of which was cancelled;
  • Subject of a prohibition;
  • Refused registration in respect of the provision of nurseries or day care or for child minding or had any such registration cancelled.

A disqualified person can only foster a child privately with the written consent of the Local Authority. This consent would be obtained from the Assistant Director Staying Safe and will only be given where they are satisfied that the welfare of a child will not be prejudiced by the private foster carer or by a member of their household.


Appendix 3: National Minimum Standards

Click here to view Appendix 3: National Minimum Standards.


Appendix 4: Offences Associated with Private Fostering

Offences and penalties in relation to private fostering are covered by S70 Children Act 1989. It is an offence to:

  • Fail to give the notice required under the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 without reasonable excuse, within the time specified; or to provide any information required without reasonable excuse, within reasonable time;
  • Make, or cause to be made any statement in the notification which is known to be false or misleading in a material particular;
  • Fail without reasonable excuse to comply with any requirement imposed by the local authority;
  • Care for a child whilst disqualified or prohibited from private fostering without the consent of the local authority, whilst living in the same household as someone who is disqualified or prohibited from private fostering or at which a person who is employed is disqualified or prohibited from private fostering;
  • Refuse to allow a privately fostered child to be visited by an authorised officer of the local authority; or to obstruct such an officer in inspecting premises in which a child is privately fostered or in which it is proposed to privately foster a child and from seeing the child there;
  • Publish as advertisement offering to undertake or arrange for a child to be privately fostered unless it states the persons name and address.

A person found guilty of these offences is liable to a fine except in the situation where a person is found guilty of privately fostering whilst disqualified or prohibited. In this case they would be liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than 51 weeks or a fine or both.

End