Do you know what private fostering is? If you don't, you could be breaking the law!
Private Fostering Week takes place from 9 to 13 July 2018 and is a national initiative to raise awareness about what private fostering is and the need to keep local authorities informed.
BCC have helped to explain what private fostering is with a case study..
"When Giovanni offered his son’s school friend a place to stay in their family home so the teenager didn’t have a lengthy commute every morning and evening, he was trying to help out. It’s what many of us would do faced with a similar situation and it has benefited both the young person and his immediate family who living and working abroad at the time.
"What Giovanni didn’t know until he was informed by the boys’ school was that what the family was doing was officially known as Private Fostering and by law the arrangement should be reported to the local authority.
"Although there is nothing wrong or illegal about looking after someone else’s child to help them out, when they are 16 years or under (or under 18 years if they are disabled) and you are not an close relative and it lasts for a period of 28 days or more, the local authority has a duty to check and ensure that the child is being well looked after and that everyone involved is satisfied that the arrangement is appropriate and working well."
For Giovanni it has all worked out well. Both his family and the teenager have been allocated a social worker to check that all is running smoothly and the placement has carried on successfully with the school friend studying hard and enjoying regular family life.
You can hear more about Giovanni’s story in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHkzdeq_gtY&feature=youtu.be
So what is private fostering?
Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 is cared for by someone who is not a close family member for more than 28 days.
Private fostering can be carried out for many reasons, possibly if:
.The child's parents are going through divorce
.The child's carer is staying in hospital for a long period of time
.The child's parent(s) are working away from home
According to Councillor Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, a lot of the public "aren’t aware of private fostering and what it is. Most of us would happily step in and help out a friend without it even crossing our mind that we need to inform anyone of what we are doing."
Whyte is encouraging people to report anything they suspect to be private fostering, "whether you work in a school or other education setting, in a health environment or just hear something in passing", and is urging people to "get in touch if you think a private fostering arrangement may be taking place that we don’t know about."
Bucks County Council added:
"If you suspect or know of a child under the age of 16 being cared for by someone who is not a close relative, then the law states that you must inform your local authority. The first step would be to inform your local council. The easiest way of doing this is to go onto their website, search up private fostering and fill in their private fostering form if one is provided (or available).
"A private foster carer does not have parental responsibility for the child, and therefore needs to get into contact with the actual parents to find out about any medical conditions and specific requirements for the child. Arranging to take the child on a trip also needs to be discussed and approved by the biological parents, so having a social worker to help with all these arrangements would make the whole process a lot easier, both for the parents and the private foster carer."
For more information on Private Fostering please visit our website: www.buckscc.gov.uk/privatefostering