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Private Fostering

Information for Parents


What is Private Fostering ?

Private fostering is when a child or young person aged under 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled), is cared for and provided with accommodation for 28 days or more by an adult who is not a close relative. A close relative is an aunt, uncle, step-parent, grandparent or sibling, but not a cousin, grand aunt/uncle or a family friend.


What situations can be classed as private fostering?


Private fostering covers a diverse range of situations. Here are some of the most common:

• Children sent to this country for education or health care by birth parents living overseas

• Children living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home

• Teenagers living with a family of a boyfriend or girlfriend

• Children whose parents’ study or work involves unsociable hours, which make it difficult for them to use ordinary day care or after school care.


What must I do if I intend to foster a child privately?

When a child is privately fostered the child’s parents still have full parental responsibility in the eyes of the law. The law requires that parents and carers and any others directly involved in the arrangement must notify their local authority. It is an offence not to notify your local authority.

The child’s parents should give the carer as much information as possible about the child, including their health, eating preferences, school, hobbies, religion and ethnic and cultural background. This will help the private foster carers to understand the child and take better care of them.


What does it mean for the child?

Children in private foster care have the same rights to protection and access to services as children living within their family home. Notification ensures that safeguard checks are undertaken, that the circumstances surrounding the arrangements are fully understood, that the young persons ‘wishes

and feelings’ are listened to, and that where appropriate, preventative and support services are provided. In certain circumstances the Children’s Services may provide ‘aftercare’ services to children who have been privately fostered.


Will I get support?

A range of support services may be available, and in cases where a child is assessed as a child in need additional support may be available. There will be an allocated worker for each privately fostered child. There may also be local support networks in place for carers.


What if the child leaves my care?

You must notify East Sussex Children’s Services as soon as possible, preferably within 48 hours that the child has left your care. You must also give the name and address of the person who will be caring for the child.


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