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1 Private Fostering – “Someone else’s Child”

2 Definition of Private Fostering In the definition provided by the Children Act 1989 (S66) a Privately Fostered child means: a child under the age of 16 or 18 if disabled, who is cared for and provided with accommodation by someone other than:- A parent of his/hers A person who isn’t a parent of his/hers but who has parental responsibility for him/her A relative of his/hers

3 The child has been cared for and accommodated by that person; For 28 days or more Or the period of actual fostering is less than 28 days, but the foster parent intends to foster the child for a period of 28 days or more.

4 The Child is not Privately Fostered When: They are being looked after by the authority They are living with: - Their parents -Someone who has parental responsibility or a relative who has assumed responsibility for their care S/he is living for the time being in: - a residential home - accommodation provided by a voluntary organisation - a school providing full time education - a hospital - a nursing home - a psychiatric unit S/he is being detained or subject to a Guardianship Order

5 Definition of ‘Disability' under the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

6 Definition of a Relative A relative is defined as a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of full blood or by affinity i.e. generally marriage) or a step parent. (Cousins are therefore not deemed to be relatives)

7 Parental Responsibility This remains with the parent or the person with parental responsibility and does not transfer to the Private Foster Carer. All financial arrangements regarding childcare are made between the parent and carer

8 Parental Consent Parental consent is not required for a placement to fall within the scope of s66. Whether or not the child had been placed by or with the agreement of someone with parental responsibility, it will still be a private fostering arrangement if the criteria are met.

9 History What we are clear about in Private Fostering is that it is a complex field we are constantly learning about. In 1991 the DOH started to collate information regarding Private fostering, but was stopped as a result of low notifications. It was estimated that 10,000 children are privately fostered (DOH 1991 and Save the Children Fund 1997). We now have actual figures from Statistical First Release. Private Fostering is common amongst a number of communities, however it is thought that possibly the biggest group are those from West African origin.

10 National Statistics The Statistical First Release (SFR) provides figures on Private Fostering arrangements, that have been derived from statistical data supplied by the 150 Local Authorities in England. However these figures are believed to be an underestimate of the total number of children in private fostering arrangements

11 1,330 children in the year ending 31March 2008 were reported as being cared for and accommodated in private fostering arrangements 1,250 in the year ending 31 March 2007 980 in the year ending 31 March 2006 730 in the year ending 31 March 2005

12 Why are Children Privately Fostered? There are many reasons some of which include: Work commitments Respite Illness Family breakdown Parents abroad

13 The Legal Framework The measures in section 44 of the Children Act 2004 and the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 are intended to strengthen and enhance the Children Act 1989 private fostering notification scheme. Along with the National minimum standards, they are intended to focus local authorities’ attention on private fostering by requiring them to take a more proactive approach to identifying arrangements in their area. The new measures are expected to improve notification rates and compliance with the existing legislative framework for private fostering.

14 Role and Responsibilities of Professionals Ideally notifications should come from the carer or parent The birth parents and or private foster carer must advise the local authority before the arrangement begins ideally not less than 6 weeks prior to the arrangement beginning We as professionals who work with children will come across private fostering arrangements which have not been notified to the authority

15 As professionals in education, health and social care fields etc. we have a shared responsibility to work together to ensure that all privately fostered children are notified to the authority and hence ensuring they are cared for and safeguarded from harm. So the requirement is encourage parents and carers to notify the authority of such arrangements as well ensuring the arrangement has been logged on to Iris/ ICS appropriately in order that it can be followed up.

16 Legal Consequences It is a criminal offence under the Children’s Act 1989, if a Parent and/or Carer fail to notify the local authority of any child who is being privately fostered Failure to do can result in a £5000 fine and or a 6 month prison sentence.

17 Referral Process REFERRAL CLIENT SERVICES Initial Assessment Case already open to Assessment, Locality Teams. Core Assessment by that Team Family & Friends Team Assessment of Carer Child appears to be Child in Need Assessment Team Core Assessment Locality Team Ongoing Statutory Visits Case judged as straight forward Family & Friends Team Assessment of Carer Assessment of Child Ongoing Statutory Visits

18 Relevant Reference Literature The Children Act 2004 The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 National Minimum Standards for Private Fostering

19 thank you


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