To notify Coventry Children’s Services about a private fostering arrangement, or for any further advice, call 024 7678 8555.

Thousands of children across the UK are being cared for today by someone who isn't a close relative.

These private care arrangements (known as private fostering) include children sent to England for a better education and teenagers who have had a row with mum and dad and gone to live with a friend's family. Although many of these children will be fine, some may need extra support or could be at risk of abuse and need protection.

By law, we must be told about these arrangements. 

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, expected to last 28 days or more. Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity).

Why is it important?

The law requires parents, prospective private foster carers and anyone involved in arranging for a child to be privately fostered to notify Coventry City Council of the arrangement. However, many private foster carers (prospective and actual) parents and those working with children and families are not aware of the notification requirements. As a result, many private fostering arrangements remain hidden, leaving some children vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

What sort of children are privately fostered?

Privately fostered children come from all walks of life and can include:

  • Children sent from abroad to stay with another family, usually to improve their educational opportunities;
  • Children whose parents have gone away
  • Teenagers who, having broken ties with their parents, are staying in short term arrangements with friends or other non-relatives;
  • Children of prisoners placed with distant relatives;
  • Language students living with host families.

The parent’s responsibility

If your child is being looked after by someone who is not a close relative, and this is likely to continue for more than 28 days, the law requires you to notify your local council.

The carer’s responsibility

If you are likely to be looking after someone else’s child for 28 days or more, the law requires you to notify your local council.

Your responsibility if you are working with children and families

You have a responsibility to notify Children’s Services if you become aware of any private fostering arrangements. Private fostering arrangements can be hard to identify – don’t be afraid to be curious. For example:

At School

  • One of the parents at your school has turned up with a child referred to as a “niece” or “nephew” who is staying with them for a little while
  • A child in your class mentions they are staying with a stranger or distant relative

In a healthcare setting

  • A patient turns up with a child you have not seen before
  • A patient turns up with many different children on a regular basis that they refer to as “nieces” or “nephews”
  • A child mentions that the person they are with is not their parent

The Council’s responsibility

All councils, including Coventry, are legally required to make sure that children being privately fostered are well cared for, safe and that their needs are being met. Coventry City Council will:

  • Speak with parents
  • Speak with the child and the carers and assess their situation
  • Provide advice and support and regular visits to the child and the carers

The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 and the amended s67 of the Children Act 1989 strengthens the duties upon local authorities in relation to private fostering by requiring them to:

  • Satisfy themselves that the welfare of children who are privately fostered within their area is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted;
  • Ensure that such advice as appears to be required is given to private foster carers;
  • Visit privately fostered children at regular six weekly intervals in the first year and 12 weekly in subsequent years;
  • Satisfy themselves as to the suitability of the private foster carer, and the private foster carer's household and accommodation. The local authority has the power to impose requirements on the foster carer or, if there are serious concerns about the arrangement, to prohibit it;
  • Promote awareness in the local authority area of the requirement to notify, advertise services to private foster carers and ensure that relevant advice is given to privately fostered children and their carers;
  • Monitor their own compliance with all the duties and functions in relation to private fostering, and to appoint an officer for this purpose.

Further information

Private Fostering Statement of Purpose 2024

East Area Operational Lead Designated Manager for Private Fostering

1. Introduction

  1. This Statement of Purpose is a description of Private Fostering arrangements.
  2. This document defines what constitutes a Private Fostering arrangement; the requirement that the Local Authority is notified of all Private Fostering arrangements; the assessment process and the support and advice offered to parents, private foster carers, and privately fostered children within Coventry.
  3. The legislative framework for Private Fostering arrangements was established within the Children Act 1989 and continues in the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 together with the National Minimum Standards for Private Fostering which came into force in July 2005.
  4. Local Authorities have a duty to satisfy themselves that the welfare of children who are privately fostered in their area is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted and to secure that such advice is given to those caring for them as appears to the Authority to be needed (The Children Act 1989 Section 67(1) and Section 44 the Children Act 2004).

Our primary objectives with Private Fostering arrangements are to:

  1. Ensure that proposed or actual Private Foster Care arrangements across the city do not pose any risk to the child. (NMS 3)
  2. Develop a high level of awareness throughout the borough of what constitutes a Private Fostering arrangement, and the notification requirements, both among the public and professionals working with children. (NMS 2)
  3. Ensure that, once registered, Private Foster Carers are fully supported to deliver the best possible outcomes for the household and children. (NMS 4,5 & 6)
  4. Ensure that Privately Fostered children are provided with information about their care, consulted as to their wishes and feelings, and can be healthy, happy, and achieve their aspirations in a Private Foster setting. (NMS 6)
  5. That where an existing Private Fostering relationship is assessed as not being in the best interests of the child, action is taken to improve practice in the interest of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child. (NMS 7)

2. Overview of the service

  1. There is a clear process in place within Coventry Children’s Services in respect of the management and assessment of Private Fostering (PF) arrangements. It is the Council’s policy that any Private Fostering notification will be screened by the MASH who will carry out the initial checks within 24 hours of receiving the notification.
  2. If the contact to MASH appears to be a Private Fostering arrangement, the referral is completed and assigned to the area team for allocation. The PF Agreement Assessment Record is assigned to the appropriate Help and Protection Service area Social Worker based on the address of the Private Fostering Arrangement. The receiving team will complete the PF Arrangement Assessment Record. MASH will notify the Designated Manager for Private Fostering and the IRO Service Manager of each new PF notification at the point of referral.
  3. In circumstances where the child already has an allocated Social Worker, case responsibility remains with the allocated area team.
  4. The East Area Help and Protection Operational Lead is the Designated Manager for Private Fostering to whom requests for advice and information about Private Fostering should be referred. Each area team has a responsible Operational Lead who will maintain day to day operational responsibility for Private Fostering arrangements.

Accountability: Roles and responsibilities of staff

Responsibilities of MASH

  1. The MASH is located at Broadgate House, Coventry. The functions of the MASH in respect of Private Fostering notifications is as follows:
    • Respond to all notifications regarding a proposed or actual Private Fostering arrangement.
    • Make initial contact with the carer for the child, parents and anyone else with parental responsibility to gather basic information regarding the proposed or actual placement and ascertain that it appears to be a Private Fostering arrangement.
    • If it appears to be a Private Fostering arrangements, refer the child and the carer to the Help and Protections area Social Work team in accordance with where the child or young person is living within 24 hours of receiving the notification.Carry out initial checks to ensure the welfare of the child is safeguarded.

Responsibilities of the child’s social work team

  1. There are four Help and Protection Service areas (Central, East, South and West) who will accept new Private Fostering referrals from MASH dependent on where the child or young person is living.
  2. Where the Local Authority has received notification under Regulation 3, they must for the purposes of discharging their duty under Section 67 (1) of the Act (welfare of privately fostered children) complete the PF Arrangement Assessment Record within 7 working days. This must include:
    • Visit made to the child or young person’s home where it is proposed that the child will be cared for and accommodated to speak to the child or young person alone, unless the social worker considers it inappropriate, in which case, a note should be made as to why this could not be completed.
    • Visit made to speak to the proposed private foster carer and to all members of the household.
    • Where possible, visit made to speak to every parent or person with parental responsibility for the child.
    • Consideration of what other action should be taken or services provided to promote the child’s welfare.
    • Consideration of advocacy for the child.
    • DBS checks being initiated with the private foster carer and all members of the household aged over 16 and ask / record the private foster carer for the names of two personal referees.
    • Consideration of all matters listed in Schedule 2 (NMS) as appear to be relevant.
  3. A Children and Family Assessment must be triggered following the completion of PF Arrangement Assessment Record; if the arrangement is agreed to be Private Fostering the assessment must include:
    • The wishes and feelings of the child or young person regarding the arrangement.
    • The suitability of the private foster carer’s household and their capacity to care for the child or young person.
    • Adequate and clear arrangements being in place between the private foster carer and birth parents covering areas such as contact, financial support, decision making and health care.
    • Arrangements being in place to meet the child’s health and educational needs.
  4. Ensure Regulation 8 (Private Fostering National Minimum Standards) visits are undertaken in accordance with Private Fostering regulations.

Please record all Private Fostering visits on Regulation 8 template in LCS.

Subsequent visits to children who are being fostered privately

  1. Each Local Authority must arrange for a Social Worker of the Authority to visit every child who is being fostered privately in their area.
  2. In the first year of the Private Fostering arrangement, at intervals of not more than six weeks; and in any second or subsequent year, at intervals of not more than 12 weeks.
  3. In addition to visits carried out, the Local Authority must arrange for every child who is fostered privately in their area to be visited by a Social Worker when reasonably requested to do so by the child, private foster carer, parent of the child or any other person with parental responsibility for the child.
  4. When carrying out a visit under this regulation, the Social Worker must speak to the child alone unless he / she considers it inappropriate and records the reasons why the child or young person could not be seen on their own during the visit.
  5. At the first visit to the child or young person, the allocated Social Worker must complete a DBS request with each adult(s) living within the family home. This is a safeguarding requirement which must be completed. Failure to consent to a DBS check or an adverse DBS outcome will result in the carer being served with a prohibition notice preventing them from continuing to privately foster.
  6. The Social Worker must make a written report (Regulation 8 visit) to the Local Authority after each visit carried out in accordance with this regulation.

Management Oversight of Practice:

  1. To ensure compliance with the National Minimum Standards for Private Fostering, particularly in respect of timeliness of Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment Record.
  2. The Help and Protection area Team Manager must ensure the timely allocation of the child or young person from MASH ie: within 24 hours of the PF notification. The Team Manager must review the child or young person’s case file and put on a management oversight (CF15) for the allocated social worker setting out the approach in line with PF National Minimum Standards (NMS).
  3. The PF Arrangement Assessment Record, which should include a social work visit to the child or young person, must be within 7 days of the date of the PF notification to the Local Authority. Failure to comply with visiting within this timescale is a concern and is not in accordance with Ofsted inspection standards.
  4. The Private Fostering Designated Manager (Operational Lead, Help and Protection East Area) is the authorised manager to sign off all Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment Records. Regardless of the area team who are undertaking a PF assessment, the Private Fostering Assessment Record must be sent to the Operational Lead no later than day 5 following a Private Fostering notification to the local authority, to ensure timely authorisation and quality assurance of the record and PF arrangement.
  5. A Children and Family Assessment must be initiated following the completion of the Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment Record. This should be completed and signed off within 45 working days and consider the suitability of the Private Fostering arrangement in greater depth. The SW will need to obtain/ include the outcome of DBS and Reference checks within the Children and Family Assessment.
  6. Private Fostering monitoring meetings will take place on a quarterly basis which will include the Designated Manager for Private Fostering and The Operational Lead for Quality and Assurance QA Performance and Commissioning. The purpose of the monitoring meetings will be to review every child being cared for in Private Fostering households to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place and to provide assurance that they are appropriately safeguarded.
  7. All children subject to an authorised Private Fostering arrangement will be allocated an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) and will be subject to an annual review of the suitability of the arrangements by the Independent Reviewing Officer Service. The purpose is to ensure that the Local Authority are undertaking responsibilities in line with the National Minimal Standards. When a PF Arrangement Assessment Record confirms an arrangement to be Private Fostering, the IRO Service Manager will be alerted of this via an LCS Alert and contact from the Designated Manager for Private Fostering. The IRO Service Manager will then appoint an IRO within 28 working days of this confirmation.

3. Legal definition of a Privately Fostered Child

  1. The definition of a privately fostered child:
  2. “A Private Fostering arrangement is one that is: made privately, without the involvement of a local authority, for the care of a child under the age of 16 (or up to age 18, if the child is disabled) for care of the child, provided by someone other than a parent or close relative” A “close relative” is defined as: grandparent, brother or sister, uncle or aunt, or step-parent; and be a full or half relation by blood or marriage.
  3. Private foster carers may be from the extended family such as a cousin or a great aunt. However, a person who is a relative under the Children Act 1989, i.e., a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, or aunt (whether of the full or half blood or by marriage) or stepparent will not be a private foster carer.
  4. A private foster carer may be a friend of the family, the parent of a friend of the child, or someone previously unknown to the child’s family who is willing to privately foster a child. The period for which the child is cared for and accommodated by the foster carer should be continuous by that continuity is not broken by the occasional short break.
  5. With all Private Fostering arrangements, the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child remains with the parent or person with parental responsibility.

Legal definitions of other arrangements:

  1. A child’s caring arrangement is not considered to be a Private Fostering arrangement when: The carer is the child’s parent; the carer has parental responsibility; the carer is an approved foster carer, and the placement was made by the local authority or the private arrangement lasts for less than 28 days.
  2. There is a wide variety of reasons why parents seek private foster care for their children. These may include:
    • Children living apart from their families due to parental or family problems.
    • Teenagers living with a friend or friend’s parent/carer, where relationships at home have broken down.
    • Children whose parents are working abroad or in another part of the country or serving in the armed forces.
    • Children whose parents come into the country to study or work and find it difficult to care for their own children.
    • Children sent to the UK for educational purposes, including those attending language schools, foreign exchanges or sport academies that stay with host families.
    • Children attending residential schools who stay with a teacher or friend’s parents during the long school holidays.

4. The Local Authority’s Duties and Functions under the Children Act 1989 and Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulation 2005

  1. The duties of the local authority in relation to Private Fostering are set out in the Children Act 1989, the Children (Private Arrangements Fostering) Regulation 2005 and amendments within Children Act 2004.
  2. The National Minimum Standards for Private Fostering 2005 set out several standards to be met by all local authorities in discharging their duties which cover the following areas:
    • Statement of Purpose
    • Notification
    • Safeguarding and promoting welfare
    • Advice and support
    • Monitoring and compliance.
  3. Local Authorities have a duty to satisfy themselves that the welfare of children who are privately fostered in their area is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted and to secure that such advice is given to those caring for them as appears to the Authority to be needed (The Children Act 1989 Section 67(1) and Section 44 the Children Act 2004).
  4. Local authorities do not arrange private foster placements as the arrangements are made between the parent (or person with parental responsibility) and the private foster carer.
  5. The duties placed on the local authority are supervisory and regulatory and will be provided to the required legal standard. These duties include:
    • Receiving and responding effectively to notifications and situations that may arise involving un-notified arrangements.
    • Assessing the suitability of Private Fostering arrangements, private foster carers, and their households.
    • Visiting placements within statutory timescales to ensure the placement remains appropriate and stable.
    • Supporting private foster carers, parents, and children by offering advice and providing information that ensures the child’s welfare is safeguarded and promoted.
    • Raise public awareness of the requirements regarding notification of Private Fostering.
  6. If a person is deemed unsuitable to Privately Foster a child or young person, then it may be necessary to contact the birth parents and take legal advice. The 2004 Act amended the 1989 Act to ensure that responsibilities of the Local Authority extend not only to those children who are privately fostered but also for those who are proposed to be privately fostered.
  7. Local Authorities have the power to impose requirements on Private Fostering arrangements or to prohibit them altogether. The parents and carers will be advised of this in writing and advised of the appeals’ process.
  8. The Local Authority has a duty to monitor compliance with the duties regarding services and support to Private Fostering arrangements. The Director of Children’s Services and the Local Safeguarding Children’s Partnership will also receive an annual report on Private Fostering in their area.

5. Training and awareness

Raising Awareness of Private Fostering in Coventry:

  1. The Local Authority has a duty to promote Private Fostering awareness throughout the city to parents, people with parental responsibility, existing Private Foster carers, prospective Private Foster carers and the public. This is to ensure that all are aware of their responsibility to notify the local authority of the proposed or existing Private Fostering arrangements.
  2. The aim is for the local authority to be aware of all Private Fostering arrangements within Coventry. There are two leaflets, one specific to children and young people in Private Fostering arrangements and the second leaflet for parents and the carers outlining their responsibilities.
  3. A one-minute guide for statutory partners, voluntary and 3rd sector organisations has been developed and information about Private Fostering will also be communicated via Coventry Safeguarding Children Partnership newsletter.
  4. Private Fostering will be presented at the Children’s Services Practice Development Forum on an annual basis and within Coventry City Council’s Practice week.
  5. An awareness raising session is to be completed with each new cohort of ASYEs in the Social Work Academy.
  6. Information about Private Fostering will continue to be circulated to relevant professionals within Children’s Services and in partner agencies. More targeted training work with the workforce will be developed if this is requested, or if a need presents as an outcome of any themes or issues identified via quality assurance activity.
  7. Staff have access to the Statement of Purpose and to online procedures. There is also information available on the City Council website.

6. Assessment of the Suitability of Private Foster Carers and their Household

  1. The local authority has a duty to assess the suitability of all potential or actual Private Fostering arrangements that are brought to its attention or that it has been notified of.
  2. The local authority will undertake checks and enquires to ensure that the private foster carers identified by the parent(s) are able to provide a satisfactory standard of care.
  3. Where the local authority is notified of a Private Fostering arrangement, an assessment will be undertaken, which will include:
    • Visiting the premises where it is proposed that the child will be residing.
    • Visiting and speaking to the proposed private foster carer and to all members of their household.
    • Visiting and speaking to the child, alone unless it is considered it inappropriate.
    • Speaking to and, if it is practicable to do so, visiting every parent of or person with Parental Responsibility for the child.
  4. The assessment will ascertain that the private foster carer(s), their household, and premises, provide an environment in which the child’s welfare will be safeguarded and promoted and to determine:
    • The carer’s capacity to look after the child and the suitability of his/her household.
    • The suitability of the premises in which the child will be, or is being, privately fostered.
    • Whether it would be prejudicial to the welfare of the child to be, or continue to be, cared for by the private foster carer(s) in those premises.
    • That the arrangements or proposed arrangements are likely to provide a safe and stable environment for the child.
  5. Assessments of Private Fostering arrangements will include ensuring that the child or young person’s physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and behavioural development is satisfactory and needs arising from relationship with their family including contact, his/her religious, ethnic, cultural and linguistic background are being met. The assessments will include evidence that the accommodation as well as the parenting capacity of the private foster carers are suitable and meet the needs of the child.
  6. When complete, Private Fostering assessments will be sent to the designated manager for approval.
  7. The following outcomes are possible from a Private Fostering Assessment:
    • Agreement that the arrangement is suitable (subject to DBS checks)
    • Defer
    • Impose Requirements or conditions
    • Prohibit the arrangement
    • Disqualification

7. Ensuring the welfare of Privately Fostered Children is safeguarded and promoted

  1. In considering the welfare of children who are privately fostered within Coventry regard has been given to Section 1(3), Children Act 1989. Other values and principles that will be considered to inform good practice are:
    • The welfare of the child is considered as paramount.
    • The needs of the individual child.
    • Parents/guardians primary responsibility for their child is recognised.
    • Children are valued as individuals and are treated with dignity and respect.
    • Children have a right to a safe, child centred environment.
    • Children have a right to consistent care.
    • Partnerships between parents/guardians, private foster carers and the Local Authority are valued.
  2. A continuous part of monitoring will be to check that the Private Fostering arrangement continues to meet the child/ren’s needs and that they are safeguarded and protected. Coventry, in carrying out all its duties and responsibilities in relation to privately fostered children, will seek and have regard to the wishes and feelings of the child.
  3. Regulation 8 reports will be completed following these visits and placed on the electronic care record system. In accordance with the Regulations, written records will include conclusions drawn on the arrangement, whether the arrangement continues to be suitable, whether the child/young person was seen alone (if not, why not), his/her wishes and feelings about the arrangement, any concerns raised, and any relevant advice given.
  4. All privately fostered children will have a named social worker whom they can contact for support, information or advice or should they have any concerns, worries or questions. Children will also be provided with details of advocacy services, the complaints procedures and organisations that they can contact should they wish to talk to someone independently.
  5. Carers and parents will also have the contact details of the named social worker for the child who they can contact should they require support, information, advice or have any concerns, worries or questions. Carers will be provided with the support, information, and advice necessary to enable them to be able to take appropriate care of the child they are privately fostering.
  6. When the Local Authority receives notice that a child is being privately fostered it will make enquires and visits to satisfy itself that their welfare is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted. This will involve completing a Private Fostering assessment and undertaking DBS checks of private foster carers and household members.
  7. Accurate, comprehensive, well-organised and confidential records are kept for each privately fostered child and each private foster carer.
    The records cover:
    • all the matters to which the local authority has to satisfy itself in carrying out its functions under the Children Act 1989 and the 2005 regulations;
    • any disqualifications, and any prohibitions or requirements imposed on private foster carers;
    • decisions about offences and whether to consent or refuse to consent to a disqualified person privately fostering a child;
    • any advice and support given to parents and/or carers;
    • and any information and support given to children.
  8. Privately fostered children will be visited at least once every six weeks in the first year of their placement and at least every 3 months in the second and subsequent years. This is the minimum requirement however the frequency of visits be determined by the needs and circumstances. Additional visits will be made to a privately fostered child when reasonably requested by them, the private foster carer, the child’s parent(s) or any other person with Parental Responsibility. The child/young person should ordinarily be seen alone as part of these visits unless the social worker considers it to be inappropriate.
  9. When the care of a privately fostered child is considered unsatisfactory, and this cannot be addressed the Local Authority will inform the parent(s) or other persons with parental responsibility and advise that alternative arrangements should be made. A Children & Family Assessment may be completed, or Child Protection Procedures invoked. Legal services will be consulted in determining action when necessary.
  10. There will be a small minority of Privately Fostered children who will require additional safeguarding interventions. Where these plans are required to meet the respective children’s needs, the allocated social worker will follow Coventry’s Children in Need and Child Protection Procedures.

8. The role of other agencies in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of Privately Fostered Children

  1. It is important that all those who might meet a privately fostered child are aware of the need for such arrangements to be notified to the local authority. Professionals working in universal services such as health and education have a pivotal role as they will often be the first to become aware of such arrangements.
  2. Such agencies share the local authority’s responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of privately fostered children. Other agencies need to be aware of the importance of a private foster carer or parent notifying a local authority of a Private Fostering arrangement.
  3. Education, health, and other professionals should notify the local authority of a Private Fostering arrangement that comes to their attention, where they are not satisfied that the local authority have been, or will be, notified of the arrangement. This will allow the local authority to discharge its duty to satisfy itself that the welfare of the privately fostered child concerned is satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted.
  4. Awareness raising/briefing workshops will be provided for professionals and voluntary agencies that have regular contact with children, young people, and carers to ensure that they are clear about their role and responsibilities in relation to Private Fostering arrangements. Additional training will be provided to key professionals as required to provide an appropriate understanding of the policy and procedures, which can be disseminated to their agencies.
  5. In addition, other agencies may also be responsible for the provision of services for privately fostered children where there is an assessed need.

9. Advice, support and information for Private Foster Carers, Parents (or others with Parental Responsibility) and Privately Fostered Children

  1. As part of our work with children and young people, the local authority will provide advice, guidance and support to the private foster carer and parent(s). Private foster carers will be given the contact details of the allocated social worker from whom they can seek advice and support. The Private Fostering process will be explained to the carer as part of the assessment process.
  2. Coventry has produced literature which is available to parents and carers including information leaflets outlining:
    • Notification process
    • Private Fostering arrangements; legal information, assessment process, support and services including arrangements for children in need
    • Support and advice on benefits for private foster carers
    • Support, information, and advice to parents on Private Fostering arrangements
    • Complaints procedure

Information and support that will be available to privately fostered children.

  1. Children will have access to their own social worker for advice, information, help and support. A guide to Private Fostering for children is available.
  2. Privately fostered children will also be provided with information, using methods or formats appropriate to their age and level of understanding, including:
    • About their private foster care and the carer’s responsibilities.
    • The meaning of their privately fostered arrangement, and their right to be safeguarded.
    • Their right to speak openly about their experience and to inform the social worker where they are unhappy about any aspect of the care they receive and how that information will be treated.
    • What support is available to them and how to access that support when needed.
    • Advocacy services
    • Complaints procedure
  3. In addition, privately fostered children will be given the contact details of the Social Worker who will be visiting them while they are privately fostered. If a child is assessed as being a ‘child in need’ by the Local Authority, then additional services and support will be put in place.

10. Monitoring the discharge of functions and compliance with part 9 of The Children Act 1989

  1. The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 requires Local Authorities to monitor the way in which they discharge their functions under Part 9 of the Children Act.
  2. The Local Authority monitors compliance and evaluates effectiveness in improving practice in relation to Private Fostering via several means including:
    • Records are kept and monitored about the numbers of privately fostered children and private foster carers living in the local authority’s area
    • There is a system for recording the number and nature of enquiries received in relation to Private Fostering, the responses given, and any action taken.
  3. All PF children and young people will be subject to an annual review of their arrangements by the IRO service. Each child will be allocated an IRO who will maintain oversight of their arrangements and who will raise challenge to the relevant Area Team, where there are any concerns identified, either in relation to the welfare of the child, or the suitability of the arrangement.

Line management and auditing

  1. The local authority regularly complete quality assurance activity in relation to all or a sample of children subject to Private Fostering arrangements. Such activity will include a review of the following:
    • compliance with required timescales for action to be taken on receipt of a notification,
    • decisions about the overall suitability of arrangements and subsequent visits,
    • those additional visits are made if reasonably requested by private foster carers, privately fostered children, or their parents,
    • that children are seen alone, unless it is considered inappropriate (and with an independent interpreter where the child’s preferred language is English),
    • that written reports are made in accordance with the regulations,
    • that decisions about the suitability of arrangements are signed-off at an appropriate managerial level,
    • that any concerns raised by privately fostered children are addressed, the satisfactory operation of all its procedures and the effectiveness of its actions, in relation to Private Fostering.
  2. As well as managerial oversight through supervision and signing off reports, the area Team Managers will be expected to monitor compliance through carrying out audits of a sample of cases.
  3. The Private Fostering auditing process is designed to check that the views of children parents and carers are being sought, listened to and evident within the assessment and decision-making process.

11. Notification of the end of a Private Fostering arrangement

  1. Any person who has been fostering a child privately but has ceased to do so must notify the appropriate local authority within 48 hours and must include in the notification the name and address of the person into whose care the child was received and that person’s relationship with the child.
  2. The Social Worker must find out the name and address of the new carer and their relationship with the child. Parents have a duty to notify the Local Authority of the ending of the placement including the name and address of the person into whose care the child has moved.
  3. A Private Fostering arrangement ends when:
    • A child returns to her/his parent(s),
    • A child becomes subject to Special Guardianship or Adoption Order,
    • A child reaches age 16 (unless they are disabled, when the end of the Private Fostering arrangement would be at age 18),
    • A child dies.
  4. The end of the placement must be recorded on the child’s electronic Children’s Services record. The Private Fostering Monitoring Meeting should be informed so that decision-making can be reflected on and management data can be updated. If no other services are being, or should be, provided to the child via a Child in Need plan, then the case should be closed to Children’s Services.

12. Notification of significant changes to a Private Fostering arrangement

  1. Regulation 9(1) provides that a private foster carer must notify the Local Authority of:
    • Any change of address;
    • Any further offences of which he/she or a person who is part of, or employed at, his/her household has been convicted;
    • Any further disqualification imposed on him or a person who is part of, or employed at, his household under Section 68 of the Children Act 1989;
    • Any person who begins to be part of, or employed at, his household, and any offence of which that person has been convicted, and any disqualification or prohibition imposed on him under Section 68 or 69 of the Children Act 1989 (or under any previous enactment of either of those sections); and
    • Any person who ceases to be part of, or employed at, his household.
    • Notification of changes should be reported where ever possible in advance and, in any other case, not more than 48 hours after the change of circumstances.
  2. If the private foster carer moves to another Local Authority area, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the authority receiving the notice must inform the Local Authority where the new address is located of the following:
    • The name and new address of the private foster carer;
    • The name of the child who is being privately fostered; and
    • The name and address of the child’s parent or any other person who has parental responsibility for him.
    • The responsibility for monitoring the placement will then transfer to the new responsible Local Authority.
  3. In informing another Local Authority that a private foster carer has moved to their area it is good practice to draw the authority’s attention to any important matters relating to the welfare of the child such as any disability or health condition, special educational needs, or concerns regarding the suitability of the private foster carer. It is also good practice for the Local Authority to notify other agencies of a change in address, including the Primary Care Trust and relevant Education Department.
  4. Parents are also required by law to notify the Local Authority if they change their home address and therefore need to be informed of that fact.

13. Unsatisfactory care

  1. If the Local Authority is not satisfied that the arrangements made for the care and accommodation of a child will be suitable or about the welfare of a child who is already privately fostered, they should impose requirements on the private foster carer or, if appropriate, prohibit the arrangement - and inform the parents or those with Parental Responsibility for the child.
  2. Unless it would not be in the best interests of the child concerned, they must take reasonable steps to secure that the child is looked after by a parent, any other person with Parental Responsibility, or a relative.
  3. They must also consider whether they should exercise any of their functions under the Children Act 1989, including invoking child protection procedures, whether to consider accommodating the child under Section 20 of the Act or offering support under Section 17 of the Act if the child is considered to be a ‘Child in Need’ of services. Decisions under Section 67(5) of the Children Act 1989 should not be taken by the social worker alone. Concerns should be discussed with senior managers. Legal advice may also be required from Legal Services. The relevant Local Authority procedures such as the child protection procedures should also be consulted as applicable to the situation.

14. Comments and complaints

  1. If a comment or complaint about the service is received, it is the responsibility of the relevant team to try to resolve any concerns raised by service users. If the complaint cannot be resolved at this first stage, it may become necessary for the complaint to be formally registered with the complaints team.
  2. A copy of the leaflet setting out how to make a complaint is made available to applicants during their assessment.
  3. If a child or young person makes a complaint about services provided for them, then the complaints procedure is followed. All children and young people can access an advocate.