Most children spend time staying with friends and relatives at some time during their childhood, however, for some children these arrangements can be longer term.
If a child under 16 years (or 18 if they are disabled) stays with an adult who is not a close relative (close relative is defined as sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent and step parent) for 28 days or more, this is known as a private fostering arrangement and special rules apply.
Private fostering is the term used to describe an arrangement made privately (that is without the involvement of the local authority) between a child's parents and a carer of their choice.
A child is considered to be in private foster care if they are in the full time care of someone who is not directly related, nor is a legal guardian, for a total of 28 days or longer.
The period of 28 days is expected to last cumulatively for over 28 days, for example the child is from another country and staying with a host family for 28 days or more, or the child is staying with a school friends family. There may be circumstances where the child resides with someone who is not a relative or legal guardian for longer than a 28 days period but returns to parents care at the weekend, this would constitute as a continuous period of care under private fostering arrangement.
However, if a child is cared for by a non-relative or legal guardian but returns to the parents at weekends, then this is a private fostering arrangement.
There are duties to know about and report if a school believes a pupil is living in a private fostering arrangement. The school has a duty to make a referral into Children's Services, so an assessment can be carried out, to ensure the person looking after that child or young person is promoting their welfare and safety.
Private Fostering Policy 2021/2022
This policy has now been updated in line with national and local updates. To all schools that have adopted this policy, please ensure you have archived any previous versions and replaced with the version added to this page (the policy is dated April 2021). We have also included some additional information and resources.
Schools are the key to recognising potential Private Fostering arrangements and have a duty to report any such arrangement for children and young people up to the age of 16 years old when Private Fostering applied to them. Local Authorities also have a duty to act upon all cases, assessing the child’s welfare and to provide services and support. Derbyshire County Council continues to have very low numbers which are not proportionate to the population of children in the county, so we ask that you keep this on your radar and raise the awareness for any training opportunities in your school.
For those schools who use RM Integris, there are new fields to help capture Private Fostering Arrangements, all school offices using this system will receive guidance to help them.
To assist practitioners in learning more about Private Fostering and their obligations, it is recommended all safeguarding leads/pastoral staff in schools or colleges complete the new Private Fostering webinar. It can also be used as training in safeguarding training and or briefings to all staff. The webinar takes about 20 minutes.
The Private Fostering guidance webinar can be accessed on the Derbyshire Services for Schools website. To view the content, you’ll need to log onto the site. If you don’t have a log-on, please request one from the sign up page of the S4S website. Please note that anyone in a school or academy can request access to Derbyshire Services for Schools.