Caring for Children

Provided by the Children's Services Department

FAQs for parents and carers

Why do Children’s Services need to be involved?

Children’s Services will work in partnership with parents and private foster carers to ensure that the best arrangements are in place for the child.

Here are a few reasons why it is important for Children’s Services to be involved in cases of private fostering.

  • Most children do not like living away from their parents for any length of time, and can become anxious and unsettled.
  • You may think that you know the person who is going to care for your child well, but Social Services have access to information, e.g. from police and other records which is not available to a parent.
  • Taking on the care of someone else's child is not often straightforward. Misunderstandings and conflicts can easily arise, even between friends.
  • Fostering a child is always a big responsibility. It is important that the carer has good understanding of your child's needs, particularly if they are of a different race, culture or religion, or if your child has other special needs.

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How do I notify Hampshire County Council about a private fostering arrangement?

To notify Hampshire County Council of any private fostering arrangement please Telephone: 0300 555 1384.

Or complete our online form.

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When should I notify the local authority?

Where arrangements are made to privately foster a child in advance, for example a child is being sent from abroad, or you are intending to take care of a child while his/her parents are away for work or study, then you and the child's parents should inform the Children’s Services Department at least six weeks in advance.

A social worker will make contact with you as soon as possible after you and the child's parents have notified Children's Services about the private fostering arrangement.

If the arrangement is made in an emergency, then notification must be made within 48 hours or as soon as feasibly possible.

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What should I do if the private fostering arrangement changes?

If the private fostering arrangement changes or ends you must tell the responsible local authority within 48 hours of the placement ending and give the name and address of the person who has taken over the care of the child.

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How often will a social worker visit the child?

Once notification is received Children's Services must visit the child, the parent(s) and the carer within seven working days, to assess the suitability of the arrangements for the child and the capacity of the Private Foster carers to care for the child.

The social worker will visit at least every six weeks during the first year of the private fostering arrangement.

Where private fostering arrangements are appropriate Children’s Services still remain involved; monitoring each arrangement and providing support to the private foster carer to ensure that  he/she is able to continue to meet the child’s needs until the child is able to return home or is legally old enough to live independently.

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Why do I have to notify the local authority?

Generally the private fostering arrangements that parents make for their children are appropriate to their children’s needs, and children are safe and well cared for whilst living away from home. Children who are living away from home can be potentially vulnerable when they are separated from their birth family.

Children’s Services Department needs to be informed so that support and guidance can be given to the child, parents and the private foster carers.

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Why are some children privately fostered?

Children and young people may have to live with other families for a number of different reasons. These might include:

  • A child living with a friend of his/her family because of separation, divorce or arguments at home;
  • A teenager living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend, or with a school friend’s family because of family breakdown;
  • A child needing to be cared for because his/her parent has a long-term illness and is unable to look after the child;
  • A child being sent to this country by his/her parents who are living overseas, for education or healthcare reasons;
  • A child needing to be cared for because his/her parents work away from home or work particularly long or unsociable hours;
  • A young person from abroad living with a host family while studying English or on a school exchange.

You can read about some real life private fostering situations on the scenarios and case studies pages.

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What will happen if I don’t notify the local authority of a private fostering arrangement?

You may be breaking the law if you do not notify your local Children's Services department about a private fostering arrangement. This applies to both carers and parents.

If the local authority is unaware of a private fostering arrangement that you are involved in they will not be able to offer you support and advice.

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