Child protection experts in Northamptonshire are highlighting that children and young people who are being cared for by somebody other than their immediate family could be missing out on vital welfare checks.
Children and young people can live with family friends or extended family for a variety of reasons and these situations are known as private fostering arrangements.
The council is not involved in making private fostering arrangements but is responsible for checking that the arrangements are suitable for the child.
"We do want to make sure that everything’s in place for the child or young person."
Councillor Heather Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Private fostering arrangements happen for lots of different reasons and although we haven’t been involved in arranging them, we do want to make sure that everything’s in place for the child or young person.
“This includes visiting the child, helping to make sure that the child’s needs are being met and where appropriate, offering advice and support to the child, their parents and private foster carer.”
Children in private fostering situations are unlikely to be in need of any support, but it is a legal requirement that the council where the child is living is notified of the arrangement by the carer and the parents.
What is private fostering?
Private fostering is when a carer is someone other than a parent or a close relative who looks after a child for 28 days or more. This can be an arrangement with a member of a child's wider family, a friend of the family, or the parents of a young person’s boyfriend or girlfriend. Close relatives - a grandparent, a brother or sister, an aunt or an uncle, a step parent - are not private foster carers.
It applies to children under 16 years of age, or under 18 if they are disabled.
Situations where children are privately fostered include:
- Young people living with host families while taking courses of study
- Where parents are unable to care for their children due to illness or imprisonment
- Where children from abroad are sent to live with relatives
- Teenagers who have broken ties with their parents and are staying in the short-term with friends
To tell us about a private fostering arrangement
Visit our private fostering page for more information or to let us know about a private fostering arrangement, call us on 0300 126 1000.