FAQs for private foster carers
- I am/will be a private foster carer, how will Hampshire County Council help me?
- What checks must I go through?
- Who is legally responsible for the child while he/she is in private foster care?
- What can I do in preparation to privately foster a child?
- Is there any financial support for private foster carers?
- If there are any changes in my situation do I need to tell Children's Services?
- I am looking after a child who is a relative of mine, is this Private Fostering?
- What should I do if I am unhappy with the private fostering arrangement?
Once you and the child’s parents notify us, a social worker will make arrangements to visit you to ensure your home and the people living in the home are suitable for the care of the child. The social worker will want to meet with the child and talk to them. The social worker will be able to give you, as the private foster carers , guidance, especially where a child may be traumatised by the circumstances that have led to the private fostering arrangement, for example, parent’s illness or family breakdown.
After the initial visit and assessment, the social worker will visit the private fostering family and the child regularly.
Social workers will set up an Agreement between you and the parents and will inform the Health Authority and education services to ensure that the child’s welfare and schooling needs are being adequately catered for.
While any child is living with you on a private fostering basis, you should feel able to contact the social worker who is monitoring the arrangements at any time, especially if you want to discuss, or to seek advice about, any issue relating to the private fostering arrangement.
A social worker will be allocated to check that the arrangements for the care of the child constitutes a private fostering arrangement, and where this proves to be the case, an assessment of the suitability of the arrangements for the child will be completed.
This will involve a social worker interviewing you as the child’s private foster carer, and where possible, the child’s parent(s) and any other person who has parental responsibility for the child and who is/was involved in making the arrangement.
The child will always be seen by the social worker on his/her own. All other members of your household will be seen and the accommodation where the child is/will be living will be inspected.
The local authority will make enquiries to ascertain your suitability to look after someone else’s child on a private fostering basis. This includes an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.
As a child’s private foster carer, you will provide a home and day-to-day care for the child and have a responsibility to promote and safeguard his or her welfare. However, the child’s parent(s) (or legal guardian(s)) will still hold parental responsibility and should continue to be involved in all of the important decisions that will affect the child.
It is important that before the child is left in your care, you make sure that his/her parents or legal guardians provide you with as much information as possible about the child’s family history, their previous life experiences and their previous health/medical history and that you agree arrangements for the child’s care including:
- Their education; you have a duty to ensure their attendance;
- Their hobbies and interests;
- Their health needs and any ongoing or anticipated medical treatment;
- What methods of discipline and sanctions are/are not acceptable to the child’s parents or legal guardians;
- How religious and /or cultural needs of the child will be met;
- What contact the child will have with their parents, with other members of their family and with other people who are significant to them;
- When and how you, as the child’s carer, will update the child’s parents or legal guardians on the child’s progress.
This will help you as the child’s carer to understand the child and to take good care of him/her.
The social worker will assist the child’s parents to give you all this information.
You should also agree the financial arrangements for the child’s care and maintenance with the parents.
The arrangements for the placement that you agree with the child’s parents or legal guardians should be written down so that you both have a copy of exactly what you have agreed and can therefore expect.
If you have other children or adults living in your household, you will need to consider how you will introduce them to the child and how you will ensure that the child is supported in settling into your family. It will be very important that you talk to the child so that they understand their situation, how long they will be living in your household and how they will be able to maintain contact with their parents as well as other relatives or friends who are important to them.
Financial arrangements are made directly between the parent and the carer. There is no financial support available for private foster carers from Hampshire County Council.
Yes. You need to tell us about significant changes during the private fostering arrangements within 48 hours. This may include:
- If you change address;
- If someone is joining or leaving your household;
- If any member of the household has court convictions, disqualifications from fostering or limits on how many you can foster;
- If the privately fostered child dies.
If you are looking after a child who is related to you, i.e. you are the child’s aunt, uncle, grandparent, brother, sister or step-parent, this is not classed as private fostering.
Difficulties most commonly arise in private fostering arrangements due to:
- The private foster carer being provided with insufficient information about the child and his/her care needs in advance of the placement;
- The parents not agreeing appropriate financial support for the child or failing to provide financial support at the agreed level;
- The parents or other significant relatives failing to maintain regular, meaningful contact with the child;
- The parents failing to maintain regular contact with the private foster carer or not being available to make important decisions that affect the child.
If you are unhappy or concerned about any issue relating to a child who you are caring for on a private fostering basis, you should contact the social worker. We will do everything possible to support you in promoting and safeguarding the child’s welfare.