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3.2 Private Fostering

AMENDMENT

In August 2016, this chapter was updated particularly in relation to Section 3.1, Independent Schools with regards to the person who proposes to care for and accommodate one or more children at the school must give written notice to the Children’s Services and the Education Department, giving the estimated number of the children concerned, not less than 2 weeks before the arrangement commences.


Contents

1. Policy
2. Introduction and Guidance
3. Definition of a Privately Fostered Child
  3.1 Independent Schools
  3.2 Summer Schools
  3.3 Language Schools
  3.4 Cultural Exchange Visits
  3.5 Children Accessing Medical Treatment
  3.6 Insurance
  3.7 Advertising
  3.8 Notifications of Private Fostering Arrangements (Legal Requirements)
  3.9 Offences associated with Private Fostering
  3.10 Statutory Duties of Local Authority
  3.11 Statutory Duties associated with Notifications
  3.12 Imposing Requirements on Private Foster Carers
  3.13 Disqualification of Private Foster Carers
  3.14 Specified Offences
  3.15 Prohibition of Private Foster Carers
  3.16 Assessment and Decision Making
4. Procedures Associated with Notification and Assessment
  4.1 Referrals on Private Fostering Arrangements Made Without Prior Notification
  4.2 Procedure for and Requirements of Assessment
  4.3 Completion of the Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment Record
  4.4 The Supervision, Monitoring and Review of Private Fostering Placement/ Arrangements
  4.5 Review of Arrangements
  4.6 Notification of Changes in Circumstances
  4.7 Placement Ending
  4.8 Death of a Privately Fostered Child
  4.9 Children with Disabilities
  4.10 Advice & Support
 


Appendix 1: Form PF1 Notice of proposal to place a child to be fostered privately

Appendix 2: Form LPF(a) Letter to Person with parental Responsibility

Appendix 3: Form LPF(b) Letter to Proposed Private Foster Carer

Appendix 4: Form LPF(c) Letter to Home Authority

Appendix 5: Form LPF(d) Planning Meeting

Appendix 6: Form LPF(e) Disqualification

Appendix 7: Form LPF(f) Prohibitions

Appendix 8: Form LPF(g) Requirements

Appendix 9: Form LPF(h) Lifting of Disqualification

Appendix 10: Private Fostering Flowchart

Appendix 11: Private Fostering Procedure (short version)

1. Policy

In the exercise of its legal duties in respect of private fostering it is the policy of Blackburn with Darwen Council to:

  • Strike an appropriate balance between the right of parents to exercise their responsibilities to their children in a way they see fit, the rights of children and the legal duty placed on the Council to support family life and intervene where necessary to safeguard and promote a child’s welfare;
  • Ensure that the provision of private fostering services is based on fair and equal access and anti-discriminatory practice;
  • Be child focused, ensuring the child’s welfare, safety and needs are at the centre of the process and that arrangements for the care of privately fostered children are based on a holistic and lifelong view of the child’s needs in order to maximise their life chances;
  • Consider the wishes and feelings of children at all times and ensure assessments of prospective carers focus on their ability to meet the needs of the child(ren) concerned;
  • Protect privately fostered children from sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect and exposure to domestic violence;
  • Prevent unsuitable persons from engaging in the private fostering of children. Work in partnership with parents, children, private foster carers and their families, other professionals and agencies to ensure that services are provided to meet assessed needs;
  • Ensure there is widespread awareness of the private fostering notification requirements throughout the Borough;
  • Provide advice to all those involved with private fostering of children and to ensure they know where they can get appropriate advice and assistance. Adhere to all legislative requirements and National Standards;
  • Monitor the way in which the Council discharges its functions under Part 9 of the C.C Act 1989. and take action to improve the service.


2. Introduction and Guidance

Private fostering is an arrangement made between the parents of or person with parental responsibility for a child/young person under the age of 16 years (18 years if disabled) and someone other than a parent or relative* with the intention that it should last for 28 days or more.

* The Children Act 1989 (C.A.1989) defines a relative as a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt (by blood or marriage) or step parent. It is not a private fostering arrangement when a child/young person is cared for by anyone defined by the Children Act 1989 as a relative. (A step-parent is a guardian that replaces a mother or father, but to be a legal step-parent you have to marry one of the parents).

An arrangement where a child is cared for, for more than 28 days by a member of their extended family who is not according to this definition a relative e.g. A cousin, great-aunt, great grandparent, is a private fostering arrangement.

An arrangement is deemed as private fostering irrespective of whether a financial payment is made to the carer or not and differs from public fostering in that it is neither paid for nor arranged by a local authority.

There are a variety of reasons why parents seek private foster care for their child. These include sending children from abroad to access education and health services in this country, teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend and children sent to this country as a result of troubles and adverse conditions in their own.

Private foster carers may be from the child’s extended family, they may be family friends but they may also previously be unknown to the child or child’s parent. As there is no register of private foster carers families have to find these carers themselves. Parents have no access to criminal record checks and most will have little understanding of the risks they may face. Children privately fostered are a diverse and potentially vulnerable group.

A private foster carer becomes responsible for day to day care which promotes the safety and welfare of the fostered child. Overarching responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of a privately fostered child remains with the parent or person with parental responsibility. However, it is the legal duty of the local authority to ensure the safety and wellbeing of privately fostered children in their area and to ensure that unsuitable persons are prevented from fostering a child privately.

There is a proper balance between enabling and supporting parents in the exercise of their right to make private arrangements for the care of their child(ren) and the legal duty placed on the local authority to safeguard children and young people.

The local authority do not formally approve private foster carers or register them as private foster carers, but is required to satisfy itself that private foster care arrangements are safe and satisfactory in every respect.


3. Definition of a Privately Fostered Child

The Children Act 1989 S66 defines a ‘privately fostered child’ as:

A child who is under 16 years, or 18 if disabled, who is cared for and provided with accommodation by someone other than:

  • His or her parent;
  • Another person who is not his or her parent but who has parental responsibility for him or her;
  • A relative* of his or hers.

And he or she has been or is intended to be cared for and accommodated by that person for 28 days or more.

In general it should be assumed that any member of an extended family other than one defined as a relative by the Children Act 1989 should be deemed a private foster carer.

A child/young person is not privately fostered if they are cared for in any:

  • Children’s home;
  • Accommodation provided on or behalf of a voluntary organisation;
  • School in which he/she is receiving full-time education unless they remain there during school holidays for a period of more than 2 weeks;
  • Health service hospital;
  • Residential care home, nursing home or mental nursing home or in;
  • Home/institution provided, equipped or maintained by the secretary of state.

Nor is a child privately fostered if:

  • He/she is looked after by the local authority;
  • Placed in the care of a person who proposes to adopt him/her under arrangements made by an adoption agency in line with adoption legislation.

A person who from the outset intends to care for a child for 28 days or more becomes a private foster carer on the day on which the child is first cared for.

If a period of care lasts for 27 days or less but further periods are planned which total 28 days or more then private fostering procedures apply.

A break for a short period e.g. a weekend would not affect the total calculation of the number of days of placement. Such a break does not constitute the end of a private fostering arrangement.

Children under the age of 8 years cared for continuously for a period up to 27 days, which includes overnight stays, are subject of child minding regulations.

If this timescale is exceeded then this becomes a private fostering arrangement. The calculation of whether this period exceeds 27 days includes weekend and short stays that together total 28 days or more over a 12 month period.

There are a number of other arrangements which come under private fostering regulations. The list provided is not exhaustive and legal advice should be sought if in doubt.

3.1 Independent Schools

Where a child under 16 years is a pupil at a non-local education authority school and lives at the school during school holidays for a period of more than 2 weeks, s/he should be regarded as a privately fostered child.

The person who proposes to care for and accommodate one or more children at the school must give written notice to the Children's Services and the Education Department, giving the estimated number of the children concerned, not less than 2 weeks before the arrangement commences.

The Children’s Services and Education Department may exempt any person from giving notice – for a specific period or indefinitely. Exemption may be revoked at any time by notice in writing.

Where a child ceases to be privately fostered the school shall give written notice to the Children’s Services and Education Department.

Where a privately fostered child dies the school must notify the parent, person with parental responsibility and the Children’s Services and Education Department immediately.

On other occasions a parent may make arrangements for children from abroad who are being educated in this country, to be cared for by friends or family or ‘host’ families during weekends and school holidays. These arrangements may constitute private fostering if they are to be for more than 28 days during a year and are not with relatives as defined by the Children Act 1989.

Guardianship organisations who arrange placements with host families have a duty to notify the Children’s Services and Education Department in the area in which the host family lives if the placement is intended to last for more than 28 days. The Children’s Services key relationship is with the private foster carer not the recruitment agency.

3.2 Summer Schools

When an organisation arranges a summer school where children are to stay either at the school or with host families for 28 days or more this constitutes a private fostering arrangement and the Children’s Services and Education Department should be notified. If such a notification is received procedures should be followed as for any other privately fostered child.

3.3 Language Schools

Children attending language schools who are cared for by ‘host families’ may meet the criteria to be considered privately fostered.

3.4 Cultural Exchange Visits

Children often come to this country on cultural exchanges arranged by their schools. In these circumstances children often stay with ‘host’ families and these arrangements may come under the remit of private fostering. The schools arranging these visits should formally notify the Children’s Services and Education Department in whose area the host family resides. If such a notification is received the procedures should be followed as for any other privately fostered child.

3.5 Children Accessing Medical Treatment

Children sometimes come to this country to access medical treatment and are sometimes unaccompanied. Parents or other organisations may have made arrangements for the child’s care which constitutes private fostering. The parent and organisation have a duty to inform the Children’s Services Department, but it is expected that health professionals will alert the Children’s Services Department.

If such a notification is received procedures should be followed as for any other privately fostered child.

3.6 Insurance

A private foster carer is liable for their own insurance and should be advised during the assessment period to inform in writing their ‘home contents’ insurers of the private fostering arrangement. The privately fostered child should be included under the public liability insurance clause.

3.7 Advertising

Advertising by and for private foster carers is permitted provided the advertisement indicates that the arrangements proposed constitute private fostering and state the name and address of any person proposing to arrange or undertake the private fostering arrangement.

3.8 Notifications of Private Fostering Arrangements (Legal Requirements)

Private Arrangements for Fostering Regulations (2005) Regulation 3 require that:

  • A person who proposes to privately foster a child must notify the appropriate Children’s Services Department of the proposal at least 6 weeks before the date on which the private fostering arrangement is to begin or immediately if the arrangement is to start inside 6 weeks;
  • Any person, parent or person with parental responsibility who is involved in arranging for a child to be privately fostered (such as a language school) must notify the appropriate Children’s Services Department as soon as possible after the arrangement is made;
  • A parent or person with parental responsibility for a child who is not involved in arranging for the child to be privately fostered but who knows that it is proposed must notify the appropriate Children’s Services as soon as possible after s/he becomes aware of the arrangement;
  • The notification should include all the information specified in Schedule 1 of the Regulations. The information required is extensive and includes information about any offences committed by the proposed private fosters and members of their household, information as to whether any child of theirs or for whom they have cared has been subject to an order and information about any orders made against them.

3.9 Offences associated with Private Fostering

Offences and penalties in relation to private fostering are covered by S70 Children Act 1989. It is an offence to:

  • Fail to give the notice required under the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 without reasonable excuse, within the time specified; or to provide any information required without reasonable excuse, within reasonable time;
  • Make, or cause to be made any statement in the notification which is known to be false or misleading in a material particular;
  • Fail without reasonable excuse to comply with any requirement imposed by the local authority;
  • Care for a child whilst disqualified or prohibited from private fostering without the consent of the local authority, whilst living in the same household as someone who is disqualified or prohibited from private fostering or at which a person who is employed is disqualified or prohibited from private fostering;
  • Refuse to allow a privately fostered child to be visited by an authorised officer of the local authority; or to obstruct such an officer in inspecting premises in which a child is privately fostered or in which it is proposed to privately foster a child and from seeing the child there;
  • Publish an advertisement offering to undertake or arrange for a child to be privately fostered unless it states the person’s name and address. 

A person found guilty of these offences is liable to a fine except in the situation where a person is found guilty of privately fostering whilst disqualified or prohibited. In this case s/he would be liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than 51 weeks or a fine or both.

3.10 Statutory Duties of Local Authority

The local authority has a general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need and so far as is consistent with this duty to promote the upbringing of children within their families (S17 C.A.1989).

It may therefore be appropriate to provide services in order to meet the child’s needs and promote their welfare within their own family than for the child to be privately fostered. Every effort should be made to maintain children within their families.

In respect of privately fostered children the Children’s Services Department has a duty to satisfy itself that the welfare of these children is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted and to provide necessary advice to those caring for them.

This includes the duty to ensure that parents and carers fulfil responsibilities to the child. The practical responsibilities of Children’s Services Departments in respect of private fostering arrangements include:

  • Receiving notifications from parents, carers and others of private fostering arrangements;
  • Assessing and making decisions as to the suitability of the proposed arrangements and the private foster carers;
  • Assessing the child’s needs and ensuring a private fostering plan (PFAAR) is in place and that carers are assisted in meeting a child’s needs;
  • Considering the need for ‘requirements’ and ‘prohibitions’;
  • Assessing applications for exemptions to the usual fostering limit;
  • Visiting the child in line with statutory requirements;
  • Provision of advice and support to parents, carers and children involved in private fostering arrangements;
  • Review the private fostering plan within 3 months of the case being presented to the Case Tracking Management Panel and thereafter 6 monthly. These reviews will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer.

3.11 Statutory Duties associated with Notifications

Any person who wishes to privately foster a child and the parent or person with parental responsibility for a child is required to notify the relevant local authority at least 6 weeks prior to the proposed start of a private fostering arrangement and within 48 hours of an emergency arrangement.

The notification must include the following information:

  • Name, sex, date and place of birth, religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background of the child;
  • Name and current address of the person giving the notice and his/her addresses over the preceding 5 years;
  • Name and current address of the proposed or current private foster carer and addresses over the preceding 5 years;
  • Name and address of parent(s) of the child and any other person who has parental responsibility for the child and if different of any person from whom the child is to be or was received;
  • Name and current address of the minor siblings of the child and details of arrangements for their care;
  • Date on which it is intended the private fostering arrangement will start or on which it did start;
  • Intended duration of the private fostering arrangement.

Additionally the proposed or actual private foster carer will need to provide details of any offences committed and as to whether he/she has previously had children removed from their care or has been deregistered as a child minder or as a manager of a residential children’s home.

Where the Children’s Services and Education Department receives notification of a proposal to privately foster a child or notification that a child is being privately fostered:

  • An officer of the authority must visit the premises where it is intended the child will be privately fostered within 7 working days; and
  • Speak with the private foster carer and all members of the household;
  • Speak with the child whom it is proposed will be privately fostered, alone unless the officer considers it inappropriate (an interpreter should always be used where the child’s preferred language is not English);
  • Speak to and if practicable visit the parents or person with parental responsibility for the child.

During the course of these visits the officer is required to establish the:

  • Wishes and feelings of the child;
  • Intended duration of the arrangement and that it is understood by all parties including the child;
  • Capacity of the proposed private carer to look after and meet the identified needs of the child;
  • Suitability of other members of the proposed private foster carers household;
  • Arrangements for contact between the privately fostered child and his/her parents, siblings and anyone else significant in his/her life and that these are understood by all parties;
  • Suitability of the proposed accommodation;
  • Financial arrangements for the care and maintenance of the child have been agreed;
  • Necessary steps have been taken to ensure the education and health of the child;
  • Arrangements for how decisions are made about the day to day care of the child have been agreed;
  • Need for additional advice, support or services by the child, private foster carer, parent or person with parental responsibility.

The local authority is required to exercise its powers to impose requirements, and to disqualify and prohibit unsuitable persons from privately fostering.

3.12 Imposing Requirements on Private Foster Carers

The local authority has the power (C.A.1989) to impose requirements on private foster carers as to the:

  • Number, age and sex of the children who may be privately fostered. Schedule 7 of C.A. 1989 prescribes the usual fostering limit to not more than three children. This applies to private fostering arrangements. This limit does not apply if all the children are siblings;
  • Standard of accommodation and equipment to be provided for them;
  • Arrangements to be made with respect to health and safety;
  • Particular arrangements which must be made for a particular child.

The local authority must inform private foster carers of the imposition of a requirement in writing with reasons, informing them of his/her right to appeal and the time limit (14 days) for doing so.

Requirements do not have effect while an appeal is pending.

If a private foster carer does not comply with a requirement the local authority should consider whether it is appropriate to impose a prohibition.

Examples of requirements

  1. You must ensure opportunities for the child to have play and other experiences which reflect his/her own race and culture;
  2. A file should be maintained with all records pertaining to child/family;
  3. Appropriate safety requirements.

3.13 Disqualification of Private Foster Carers

A person is disqualified from private fostering under S68 of the C.A.1989 if s/he has been:

  • Convicted at any time of ‘specified’ offences;
  • Convicted of an offence against a child;
  • Subject of an order with respect to a child so as to remove the child from his/her care or prevent the child from living with him/her;
  • (Care Orders or equivalent, Supervision order with a residence requirement);
  • Refused registration in relation to a voluntary home or a children’s home; or was concerned with the management of or had a financial interest in a voluntary or children’s home the registration of which was cancelled;
  • Subject of a prohibition;
  • Refused registration in respect of the provision of nurseries or day care or for child minding or had any such registration cancelled.

A disqualified person can only foster a child privately with the consent of the local authority. This consent would be obtained from the Director of Children’s Services.

3.14 Specified Offences

Are offences in respect of the following:

  • Abduction of children;
  • Relating to child minding and day care;
  • Relating to private fostering;
  • Relating to voluntary homes and children’s homes;
  • Offences relating to importing of indecent images of children;
  • Offence by virtue of Sex Offenders Act 1997.

3.15 Prohibition of Private Foster Carers

The local authority has the power (C.A. 1989) to impose a prohibition on a person who applies to become a private foster carer or to a person who is already a private foster carer.

The local authority may impose a prohibition if they are of the opinion that that person is not suitable to privately foster a child; his/her premises are not suitable for private fostering or it would be prejudicial to the welfare of the child for him/her to be accommodated by that person in those premises.

Local Authorities are encouraged to use the power of prohibition where it is necessary to enforce requirements.

Legal advice should always be sought when considering imposing a prohibition.

Where an immediate decision is required in respect of the imposition of a prohibition the matter should be referred to the Head of Service who may consult with the Director of Children’s Services.

A prohibition must be sent in writing to the person on whom it is being imposed, specifying reasons and providing information about the right to appeal and the time limit (14 days) for the appeal.

The child’s parents should be fully informed and advised to remove the child from the private fostering arrangement. In some circumstances the authority may need to consider taking action to safeguard the child’s welfare e.g. if the parents are not in the country or are in custody.

Persons on whom a prohibition has been imposed are disqualified from private fostering.

Local authorities may cancel a prohibition if they are satisfied that the prohibition is no longer justified.

3.16 Assessment and Decision Making

The Children’s Services and Education Department does not register private foster carers but has a legal duty to assess the suitability of a person to be a private foster carer and to impose appropriate requirements and impose prohibitions.

The assessment of private foster carers and private fostering arrangements will be conducted by social workers from within one of the assessment and social work teams.

The Case Tracking Management Panel will consider the assessment of private foster carers and the proposed private fostering arrangements. This will involve consideration of social work recommendations regarding:

  • The imposition of ‘requirements’;
  • Exemptions from the rules of disqualification and fostering limits;
  • The imposition of a prohibition.

The Case Tracking Management Panel will note the application in respect of the above and the agency decision maker (Director of Children’s Services) will make decisions based on the above.

In situations where a notification is received from or about a person already caring for children in circumstances which constitute private fostering and immediate decisions are required about issues of disqualification and exemption from the fostering limit these are to be referred to the Director of Children’s Services.

Situations requiring immediate consideration of imposition of a prohibition should be referred to the Head of Service who may consider consulting Director of Children’s Services.


4. Procedures Associated with Notification and Assessment

Notification of proposed, perceived or existing private fostering arrangements may arrive in writing or be consequent of a telephone call from a parent, prospective or existing private foster carer or from a professional.

Where a referral or notification is in respect of a child or children:

  • Not already in receipt of services from Children’s Social Care the referral will;
  • Be taken by the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub and be recorded on Protocol;
  • In receipt of services from Children’s Social Care the referral will be taken by the social work team providing services and recorded on Protocol.

4.1 Referrals on Private Fostering Arrangements Made Without Prior Notification

There will be occasions when private fostering arrangements have been made without prior notification to the department due to parties being unaware of their responsibilities under the Children Act 1989.

There may also be situations whereby notifications are received within 48 hours of an emergency ‘placement’.

In either of these situations the single assessment should, by the first checkpoint, include consideration as to whether the parent or person with parental responsibility could resume care whilst the Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment (PFAAR) is undertaken.

Ideally a child should be returned to the care of parent or person with parental responsibility until the PFAAR is completed. If this is not possible consideration should be given as to whether the child should be accommodated by the local authority pending the outcome of the PFAAR.

Should the child normally be resident in another area, the home Children’s Services Department is ultimately responsible for the placement of the child pending completion of the PFAAR and should undertake their own assessments as to the suitability of this (The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 state that the ‘appropriate local authority' means the local authority in which the child is being privately fostered, or in whose area he/she is intended to be).

The relevant team manager must discuss the case with the relevant manager in the home authority in order that clear roles and responsibilities can be defined. All decision making must comply with the welfare principle of the C.A.1989 and must be undertaken in partnership with parents.

When referrals are received from professionals relating to a previously unknown private fostering arrangement, the consent of parents or those with parental responsibility in respect of making enquiries can be waived.

Children subject of referrals concerning their previously unknown status as privately fostered children are viewed as children in need until a full assessment (Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment Record – PFAAR) is completed.

Telephone referrals can be taken from professionals but they should be asked to complete a MASH referral form and send it to the MASH team or, in the instance of a child already receiving social work support and intervention, the appropriate team manager within 2 working days. If a decision is made for a child to remain with private foster carers during the assessment process, the child’s social worker must ensure the child is visited in placement within first seven days and fortnightly pending the case being presented to the Case Tracking and Management Panel and thereafter 6 weekly.

On receipt of an enquiry, referral or notification in respect of a potential private fostering arrangement or notification of the end of a private fostering arrangement or any prohibitions the Team Manager concerned must inform the relevant Service Lead.

On receipt of a referral that a child is to be or is being privately fostered the social worker is responsible for ensuring that within 2 days the following is sent to the parent of the child concerned or person with parental responsibility:

  • Letter (LPF(a)) requesting formal notification (ref: Parent – request for formal notification);
  • Form PF1 – Notice of Private Fostering proposal;
  • Leaflet – Private Fostering information for Adults.

And to prospective private foster carers:

  • Letter of acknowledgement (if appropriate) and request for formal notification (ref: Request for Formal Notification/declarations ((LPF(b));
  • Form PF1 – Notice of Private Fostering proposal;
  • Leaflet – Private fostering information for Adults.

In the event that the child is normally resident in another local authority the social worker should send to the home authority:

  • Letter informing of proposed/actual private fostering arrangement (ref: Home Authority (LPF(c)).

As soon as a child is known to be living in a potential private fostering arrangement, or one is planned, the social worker is responsible for informing all other relevant agencies and arranging a planning meeting:

        •   Letter informing of Private Fostering arrangement (PFL(d)).

The social worker is responsible for ensuring that case files are set up in respect of both the child and the private foster carer.

On return of the completed forms they should be placed on both the child’s and carer’s case files.

4.2 Procedure for and Requirements of Assessment

The assessment of the private foster carer and the fostering arrangements should be given high priority. The Child and Family Assessment (C&F) must be completed within 10 days and a PFAAR commenced.

The Child and Family Assessment should be undertaken by a social worker.

The statutory requirement is that within 7 days an officer of the local authority:

  • Visits the premises proposed as accommodation for the private fostering arrangement;
  • Speaks with the private foster carer and all members of the household;
  • Speaks with the child whom it is proposed will be privately fostered, alone unless the officer considers it inappropriate (an interpreter should always be used where the child’s preferred language is not English);
  • Speaks to and if practicable visits the parents or person with parental responsibility for the child;
  • Establishes the wishes and feelings of the child;
  • Establishes the intended duration of the arrangement and that it is understood by all parties including the child;
  • Assesses the capacity of the proposed private carer to look after and meet the identified needs of the child;
  • Assesses the suitability of other members of the proposed private foster carers household;
  • Establishes arrangements for contact between the privately fostered child and his/her parents, siblings and anyone else significant in his/her life and that these are understood by all parties;
  • Establishes the suitability of the proposed accommodation;
  • Ensures financial arrangements for the care and maintenance of the child have been agreed;
  • Ensures necessary steps have been taken to ensure the education and health of the child;
  • Ensures arrangements for how decisions are made about the day to day care of the child have been agreed;
  • Establishes any need for additional advice, support or services by the child, private foster carer, parent or person with parental responsibility;
  • It is important that the Child and Family Assessment in respect of a referral about a private fostering arrangement determines:
    • The needs of the child whom it is proposed to be privately fostered;
    • The needs of a child who is already privately fostered in order to determine whether they should remain in placement pending the outcome of a Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment or should be returned to the care of their parent or person with parental responsibility or alternative arrangements made;
    • Whether the child is normally resident within this authority;
    • The potential of supporting the child (S7& C.A.1989) within his/her own family;
    • Whether the proposed arrangements fall within private fostering regulations and thus a Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment is required;
    • If any additional assessments in respect of the child are required due to complex issues being present.

On completion of the Child and Family Assessment to 1st checkpoint stage, which concludes that the proposed or actual arrangements constitute private fostering the social worker should:

  • Close the Child and Family Assessment Initiate the Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment (PFAAR).

All parties should receive a copy of the PFAAR and a copy placed on the child’s file.

4.3 Completion of the Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment Record

The social worker is responsible for convening and chairing a planning meeting, to be held within 5 working days of completion of the single assessment and the initiation of the PFAAR.

The purpose of the meeting is to plan the Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment process, identify roles and responsibilities, allocate tasks, refine and agree the initial plan and ensure the private fostering agreement is in place.

Attendees should include:

  • Parent or person with parental responsibility;
  • Proposed/actual private foster carers;
  • Child/young person if of an age and appropriate understanding;
  • Key professionals involved with the child/young person.

It is possible that more than one planning meeting is necessary.

The plans and agreements should be distributed to the relevant parties and placed on both the child’s and private foster carers file within 3 working days of the planning meeting.

The Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment should be completed within 42 working days of receipt of the initial referral in respect of the private fostering arrangement. It is important to note that the initial 10 days of the Child and Family Assessment is included in this 42 day timescale.

In the event that a child is already in a private fostering placement as agreed by Head of Service and it is not possible to complete the PFAAR within 6 working weeks the case should be presented to the Case Tracking Management panel for interim notification.

The Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment Record is designed to ensure that the social worker undertakes the private fostering assessment consistent with statutory requirements and records analysis and conclusions in respect of the imposition of requirements.

Statutory checks must be completed on all persons over 16 years within the household and two personal references sought and visited.

The completed PFAAR should be shared with all parties and a copy provided to the parent or person with parental responsibility and the private foster carer and presented to the Case Tracking Management Panel.

The completed PFAAR should include recommendations as to whether:

  • The private fostering arrangement is satisfactory in that the child’s welfare can be promoted and satisfactorily safeguarded;
  • There are any needs the arrangement cannot meet;
  • An exemption to the fostering limit is required;
  • Requirements or prohibitions need to be imposed.

The social worker will arrange for presentation of the PF1 and the PFAAR to the Case Tracking Management Panel.

In the event that a child is already in a private fostering placement (agreed by Head of Service) and it is not possible to complete the PFAAR within 6 working weeks from date of notification the case should be presented to the Case Tracking Management Panel for interim recommendations.

In this circumstance the social worker should provide copies of the:

  • Child and Family Assessment;
  • PF1 – parental notification/consent and private foster care notification;
  • References that are obtained;
  • Information recorded to date on the PFAAR;
  • Evidence of outcome of DBS checks on all persons over 16 years in the private foster carer’s household.

The Agency Decision Maker gives consent as to whether a person can act as a private foster carer based on the information presented to the Case Tracking Management Panel.

The social worker must inform Review and Quality Service of a private fostering arrangement and request a review date within 3 months.

4.4 The Supervision, Monitoring and Review of Private Fostering Placement/ Arrangements

Responsibility for monitoring, supervision and review of the placement will be transferred to the Children in our Care team in accordance with the case transfer protocol once the assessment and plan have been completed and agreed.

The frequency of social work visits should be determined by the circumstances of the case and should take place whenever reasonably requested by the child, carer or parent/person with parental responsibility and:

  • Within one week of placement (or of notification of placement);
  • Fortnightly up until case is presented to the Case Tracking Management Panel;
  • Not less than every 6 weeks during the first year of placement;
  • Not less than every 12 weeks after the first year of placement.

During every visit the child’s wishes/feelings should be sought, i.e. the voice of the child, recorded on Protocol and clearly identified as a visit carried out under Regulation 8 of the Private Fostering Regulations.

The purpose of the visits:

  • To safeguard and promote the child’s welfare – the child’s bedroom should be seen on some visits and some visits should be unannounced. Some visits should occur when all members of the household can be seen;
  • To ensure that arrangements continue to meet the child’s needs as outlined in the private fostering plan;
  • To ensure the child’s wishes and feelings are being sought and heard;
  • Ensuring any requirement imposed are being met and whether they need to be changed or cancelled;
  • To ensure that parents are fulfilling their parental responsibilities for the child, that adequate financial maintenance is being provided and that contact arrangements are satisfactory;
  • To ensure that carers and parents or those with parental responsibility are in receipt of appropriate advice and support from relevant professionals e.g. health and education professionals.

The practitioner must:

  • Explain the purpose of the visits to the carer and the child;
  • See the child alone unless it is considered inappropriate.

An interpreter independent of the child’s parents and carers should be used where the child’s preferred language is not English.

It is an offence for a private foster carer to refuse to allow a child to be visited by a social worker.

4.5 Review of Arrangements

The child’s private fostering plan should be reviewed within 3 months of the case being presented to Case Tracking Management Panel and thereafter 6 monthly.

All privately fostered children will be considered as children in need and have a child & families plan. These Child In Need reviews will be chaired by an independent reviewing officer.

Parents, person with parental responsibility, carers and child (if of an age and understanding) should attend this review.

Minutes from the child’s Private Fostering Review should be completed and distributed to all parties, by Review & Quality, within  20 working days of the review meeting and placed on the child and carers files.

4.6 Notification of Changes in Circumstances

The parents or person with parental responsibility of privately fostered children are required to notify the local authority in writing of any changes in the circumstances which affect their privately fostered child. This includes a change in their address and the end of the private fostering arrangement.

The Social worker ensures that this is clearly recorded on Protocol.

Private foster carers must notify the local authority of certain changes of circumstance in advance if practicable but not more than 48 hours after the change.

The following notifications are required:

  • Any change of the carer’s address;
  • Any person who begins or ceases being a member of the household;
  • Any new conviction, disqualification or prohibition of any person living in the household or employed in the household;
  • If the private fostering arrangement ends, stating the name and address of the person into whose care the child has moved;
  • Death of the privately fostered child. In this case the carer must also notify the parent or person with parental responsibility.

In the event that the private foster carer has moved with the privately fostered child to another area the social worker must notify the receiving authority in writing and detailed information be provided.

The carer’s assessment and panel verification should be sent to assist the reassessment of the carer, this should only be with the written consent of the carer.

4.7 Placement Ending

Social workers should advise and assist parents/person with parental responsibility in planning the child’s return home or to alternative carers. Wherever possible such moves should be planned and the child prepared for the move.

The social worker must inform other statutory agencies including the home Children’s Services Department of the ending of a private fostering arrangement and of the new address of the child.

The social worker must record the end of a private fostering arrangement on Protocol.

4.8 Death of a Privately Fostered Child

If a child dies the private foster carer must immediately notify the parent and Children’s Services and Education Department. If this is a sudden death the police will be involved.

The social worker should inform the relevant Head of Service and contact the carer and parents to offer support and advice.

Local Safeguarding Children’s Board procedures should be consulted in respect of the required response to unexpected child deaths.

4.9 Children with Disabilities

A disabled child who has been privately fostered after the age of 16 years qualifies (even if he is no longer privately fostered) for advice and guidance until the age of 21 years in the area in which he is resident.

The Children’s Services and Education Department may advise, assist and befriend the young person if s/he requests such support. Assistance may be in kind or in exceptional circumstances include financial support. This support will be provided by the Leaving Care Team.

4.10 Advice & Support

All young people who have been privately fostered up to the age of 16 will be entitled to be considered on a case by case basis for advice and support. Assistance may be in kind or in exceptional circumstances include financial support. This support will be provided by the Leaving Care team.


Appendices

Appendix 1: Form PF1 Notice of proposal to place a child to be fostered privately

Appendix 2: Form LPF(a) Letter to Person with parental Responsibility

Appendix 3: Form LPF(b) Letter to Proposed Private Foster Carer

Appendix 4: Form LPF(c) Letter to Home Authority

Appendix 5: Form LPF(d) Planning Meeting

Appendix 6: Form LPF(e) Disqualification

Appendix 7: Form LPF(f) Prohibitions

Appendix 8: Form LPF(g) Requirements

Appendix 9: Form LPF(h) Lifting of Disqualification

Appendix 10: Private Fostering Flowchart

Appendix 11: Private Fostering Procedure (short version)

End