Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not a parent, close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility. It is a private arrangement made between a parent and the person caring for the child (called a private foster carer) for 28 days or more.
What is meant by a 'close relative'?
A parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt or step-parent, married to the parent of the child being cared for. So, for example, a cousin looking after a child would be a private foster carer.
Someone with legal parental responsibility for the child would not be a private foster carer.
If you are looking after a child for less than 28 days
You do not need to tell us if you are looking after a child for less than 28 days (for example helping a friend recover from illness or looking after your own child's friend for a holiday). You have to look after a child for at least 28 days for it to become private fostering.
Private fostering example scenarios
Examples of private fostering include:
- a child living in this country for educational reasons whose parents live overseas
- a child living with a friend's family as a result of difficulties at home / their own parents have moved away from the area to work or to visit extended family overseas
- a young person living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend
- a child who lives with their great aunt / uncle because of parental divorce, separation or other issues at home
You do not have to be paid to be a private foster carer.
Let us know
If you are a health visitor, doctor or teacher you are expected to report a private fostering arrangement to us if you aren't satisfied that the private foster carer, or the child's parent, has done so.
If you are a professional and become aware of private fostering arrangement, you have a duty to inform us.
When a private fostering arrangement takes place, our children’s services team have to visit the home to:
- make sure that the child is well cared for in a safe and suitable environment
- provide appropriate advice and support to the carer
How to notify us of a private fostering arrangement
You can let us know by:
Send an email to the Single Point of Access (SPoA) address at: SPOAchildren@wrexham.gov.uk.
You also can send a letter addressed to:
Wrexham Children’s Services Single Point of Access,
Wrexham County Borough Council,
You can also contact the SPoA number or Emergency Duty Team number listed on our children’s social care page.
If the child is in immediate danger, you should call the police immediately on 999.
What will happen after you tell us about the arrangements?
Children’s services will:
- visit the carer and the child to talk to them and check that everything is going okay
- talk about whether there is any extra advice or support that we or other organisations can give
- make sure everyone has all the information they need to check that the carer and other members of their household are suitable to look after the child - this will include a Disclosure and Barring Service check / police check
- check that the home where the child will live is safe
After this, we must decide if the arrangements are in the best interests of the child. This doesn't mean they have to be perfect, but we can stop the placement if we think it isn't in the child's best interests.
As a parent or private foster carer you can appeal to a magistrates' court if you disagree.
As part of the arrangements we might ask carers to do certain things, for example, to make sure the child stays in touch with their parents or to make sure the child's cultural needs are met. We will also need to visit the carer and the child regularly to make sure that all is going well.
What will happen if I don't tell you?
As a carer you miss out on advice and support from us and other organisations that could help.
If you are a parent who allows your child to be cared for by a private foster carer, or if you are a private foster carer and you don't tell us, you are breaking the law. You could be prosecuted and fined.