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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.
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).
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.
Privately fostered children come from all walks of life and can include:
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.
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.
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:
In a healthcare setting
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:
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:
To notify Coventry Children’s Services about a private fostering arrangement, or for any further advice, call 024 7678 8555.