Most children spend some 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 under 18 years if they are disabled) stays with people who are not related to them 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 does not have to be continuous. If, for example, a child stays regularly with a school friends family and this arrangement adds up to 28 days or longer, after which he or she returns home to the full-time care of their parents, then this would not be a 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.
All Derbyshire schools and colleges have been provided with a model school policy, updated for 2019 to 2020 and with supporting information to help them identity, report and respond, this includes a staff guidance. They will also have a role in supporting a child or young person in a private fostering arrangement along with partners.
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 know more about Private Fostering and their obligations, it is recommended all safeguarding leads in schools or colleges complete the Private Fostering e-learning module on the Derbyshire Learning Pool.
This should take about 20 minutes to complete and will provide you with all you need to know to help you in schools and respond to a possible private fostering arrangement.
If you have any issues logging into the Learning Pool, please contact the Safeguarding training team;