Brighton and Hove Logo


Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

3.1.8 Private Fostering (including Language Schools Using Host Families)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to children who are cared for by people other than their parent or close relative for more than 27 days and who are NOT subject to any order or arrangement that would place them in the care of the local authority. Importantly, they also include the processes in dealing with Language schools who use host families for (some of) their pupils.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Private Fostering Booklet

DfE private Fostering

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Allegations Against Foster Carers Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated throughout in November 2017 to reflect the changes to the Front Door for Families and the creation of a new dedicated Private Fostering Social Worker post in Brighton and Hove Children’s Social Work.


Contents

  1. Legislation and Guidance
  2. Definition
  3. Notifications
  4. Requirements of a Notification
  5. Allocation of Work
  6. Requirements of First Visit (within 7 days)
  7. Completing the Strengthening Families Assessment
  8. Subsequent Visits to Children who are being Privately Fostered
  9. Requirements, Prohibitions and Disqualifications
  10. Failure to Give Required Notifications
  11. Disqualifications
  12. Appeals
  13. Removal of a Foster Child from Unsuitable Surroundings
  14. Children Spending Holiday Periods in Schools
  15. Termination of the Arrangement
  16. Aftercare
  17. International Aspects
  18. Monitoring Role
  19. Language Schools


1. Legislation and Guidance

Part 9 of the Children Act 1989, as amended, deals with private arrangements for fostering children. The Children Act 2004 and the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005, and associated statutory guidance, introduced measures to strengthen and enhance the fostering notification requirements within the 1989 Act whereby Local Authorities are required to take a proactive approach to identify private fostering arrangements in their area. The aim was to improve compliance with the legislative framework and therefore improve the arrangements for safeguarding children in private fostering arrangements.

Those involved in private fostering arrangements must give the Local Authority notice of the arrangement not less than 6 weeks beforehand, (or within 48 hours if the child is placed in an emergency).

Under Section 67(1) of the Children Act 1989 (as amended), Local Authorities have duties to ensure that the welfare of privately fostered children within their area is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted including children where it is proposed that they will be privately fostered in the future.


2. Definition

Private fostering is different from public fostering as the arrangement is normally organised between the parent and carer, that is to say it has been made without the involvement of a Local Authority.

There needs to be a balance between the rights of the parents to make private arrangements for the care of their children, and the obligations of the Local Authority to assess and monitor the safety and welfare of the privately fostered child.

A privately fostered child is defined as:

“one that is made privately (that is to say without the involvement of a local authority) for the care of a child under the age of 16 (under 18, if disabled) by someone other than a Parent or close relative with the intention that it should last for 28 days or more. A close relative is defined as “a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent."

A private foster Carer may be a friend of the family, the Parent of a friend of the child, or someone previously unknown to the child’s family who is willing to privately foster a child. The period for which the child is cared for and accommodated by the private foster Carer should be continuous, but that continuity is not broken by the occasional short break. Exemptions to this definition are set out in Schedule 8 to the Children Act 1989.

The private foster Carer becomes responsible for providing the day to day care of the child in a way which will promote and safeguard his welfare. Overarching responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the privately fostered child remains with the Parent or other person with Parental Responsibility.

Examples of where a child might be deemed to be privately fostered (this list is not exclusive):

  • An adolescent is living with friends as a result of family breakdown;
  • Younger children are placed with friends of the family on a long term basis following family breakdown or Parental ill-health;
  • Children of West African background placed with white Carers from a very young age with little or no contact from birth Parents;
  • Children whose Parents work unsociable hours making it difficult for them to use mainstream day care;
  • English language students who are living with a Carer for over 28 days, (see Section 9, Requirements, Prohibitions and Disqualifications);
  • Children in boarding schools who reside with another family during school holidays;
  • Back-door pre adoption arrangements;
  • Children from National disasters/asylum seeking, refugees.

A child is not privately fostered whilst:

  • Being looked after by the Local Authority;
  • A child is not privately fostered whilst being cared for in:
    • A children’s home;
    • Accommodation provided for or on behalf of any voluntary organisation;
    • Any school in which he or she is receiving full time education;
    • A health service hospital;
    • Any residential care home, nursing home or mental nursing home;
    • Any other home or institution provided and maintained by the Secretary of State.
  • A child is not privately fostered if cared for in premises in which any parent, person with parental responsibility or relative who has assumed responsibility for the child’s care is living.


3. Notifications

Notifications of any private fostering arrangement are required from:

  • Any persons who propose to foster a privately fostered child;
  • The Parent or persons with Parental responsibility for the child; and
  • Any person, including a Parent or persons with Parental responsibility for the child;
  • A Language School (See Section 19, Language Schools).

Whether or not directly involved in arranging a privately fostered arrangement, who knows it is proposed that a child is to be fostered privately must notify the authority as soon as he/she becomes aware of the arrangement. This may include teachers, health or other professionals.

Notification should be given to the local authority:

  • At least 6 weeks before the private fostering arrangement is to begin (but not more than 13 weeks before an arrangement begins); or
  • Immediately, in cases where the private fostering arrangement is to begin within 6 weeks.

A person who is fostering a child privately and has not given notification to the local authority must inform them immediately he/she becomes aware that notification is required.

A person who has given notification, as above, (i.e. Carer and/or Parent) must notify the local authority within 48 hours of the start of the arrangement of the child.

The private fostering arrangement is deemed to have begun at the point at which the local authority becomes aware of it.


4. Requirements of a Notification

The above persons should notify the Front Door for Families of:

  • The name, sex, date and place of birth, religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background of the child;
  • The name and current address of the person giving the notice and any previous address within the last five years;
  • The name and current address of the proposed or current private foster Carer and his addresses within the previous five years;
  • The name and address of any Parent of the child and of any other person who has Parental responsibility for the child and (if different) of any person from whom the child was, or is to be, received;
  • The name and current address of the minor siblings of the child, and details of the arrangements for their care;
  • The name and address of any person, other than a person specified in sub-paragraph (iv) above, who is involved directly or indirectly in making the fostering arrangement; and
  • The intended date of the beginning of the fostering arrangement or the date on which the arrangement actually began;
  • The intended duration of the private fostering arrangement.

The private foster Carer proposing to privately foster a child should further give particulars of:

  • Any offence of which he or she has been convicted;
  • Any disqualification or prohibition imposed on him/her under section 68 or 69 of the Act or under any previous enactment of either or those sections; and
  • Any such conviction, disqualification or prohibition imposed on any other person living in, or employed at, the same household;
  • Any order of a kind specified in regulation under section 68 of the Act made at any time with respect to him/her;
  • Any order of a kind specified in regulation under section 68 of the Act made at any time with respect to a child who has been in his/her care; and
  • Any rights or power with respect to a child that have been at any time vested in an authority specified in regulations under section 68 of the Act under an enactment specified in those regulations.

Furthermore, any person who is fostering a child privately must notify the local authority of:

  • Any change in his/her address;
  • Any person who begins, or ceases, to be part of the household;
  • Any further offence of which she/he or a person who is part of or employed at his/her household has been convicted;
  • Any further disqualification imposed on him/her who is part of or employed at his/her household has been convicted;
  • Any person who is part of or employed at his/her household, and any offence of which that person has been convicted, and any disqualification or prohibition imposed on him/her under section 68 or 69 of the Children Act 1989 or under any previous enactment of either of those sections;
  • Schedule 7 to the Children Act 1989 prescribes the usual limit of not more than 3 children to be placed in one private fostering situation. Should one private foster carer be caring for more than 3 children they will require exemption from the local authority. This exemption should be granted, if appropriate, by the Assistant Director (Children's Safeguarding and Offending).

Notification should be given in advance if practicable or in any other case, within 48 hours of the change of circumstances.

If the private foster carer moves to another local authority area, then the Directorate should notify the new authority of the name and new address of the Carer; the name of the child who is privately fostered and the name and address of the child’s Parents or those who hold Parental Responsibility for the child.

The Parent of a privately fostered child or any other person who has Parental Responsibility for the child must notify the local authority of any change of address.

See also Section 15, Termination Arrangements.


5. Allocation of Work

All notifications or new referrals and initial contacts of children thought to be privately fostered are to be passed to the Front Door for Families for an initial screening event and to create a child record on CareFirst. The record will include as much of the information specified above (in notifications required) as can be obtained from the referrer. The FDFF managers will oversee the initial screening event; decide whether checks are required and agree the outcome prior to the case being allocated to the Private Fostering Social Worker.

Note: Private fostering cases are unusual in that the worker supports all three parties: the child, the birth Parent and the Carer. The worker will need to enter the Carers details as well as those of the child and Parent(s).

In cases where the Carer is already allocated to a Social Worker the case will transfer immediately to them after the screening event.

Where the private fostering arrangement has not started, the case will be allocated to the Private Fostering Social Worker as soon as the screening event has taken place, so that the statutory checks and visits can be undertaken in advance.

Where a child is newly referred and is already in the arrangement and the Carer is not known to the department, a Strengthening Families Assessment will be undertaken by the Private Fostering Social Worker to ascertain that the child is indeed privately fostered. An initial visit must take place within 7 working days of the notification of the arrangement and the child seen. Advice on the statutory checks (see Section 6, Requirements of First Visit) required should be shared at the first visit and the relevant forms delivered.

The Private Fostering Social Worker will also be responsible for assessing the suitability of the carer to provide a private fostering arrangement including statutory checks. This will be completed in line with the Guidance on Private Fostering and Fostering Regulations 2005.

Where a child who is already known to the department and is allocated to a worker the case will remain with that worker and they will undertake the assessment. The social worker will receive support from the Private Fostering Social Worker to ensure that all private fostering requirements are met. All other practice decisions remain with the social worker.


6. Requirements of First Visit (within 7 days)

Where notification has been received an officer of the local authority must, within 7 working days:

  • Visit the premises where it is proposed the child will be cared for and accommodated;
  • Visit and speak to the proposed private foster Carer and all members of his/her household;
  • Visit and speak to the child alone, unless the officer considers it inappropriate:
  • Speak to and, if it is practicable to do so, visit every Parent of or persons with Parental responsibility for the child; and
  • Establish such matters as listed above (in Section 4, Requirements of a Notification as are relevant);
  • Deliver the forms regarding the completion of a:
    • DBS check on each member of the household over 16 years;
    • An enquiry to the register of children subject to a Child Protection Plan; and
    • Medical information on the private foster Carer;
    • The letter of consent to make enquiries re: any disqualifications;
    • Take two references one of which will be visited by the Social Worker;
    • All in (vi) should be shared, explained and consents obtained where possible.

Leaflets regarding private fostering and a copy of the complaint leaflet should be delivered on this first visit.

Having completed these functions the officer must make a written report, in the form of a Strengthening Families Assessment, to the local authority. Record the Strengthening Families Assessment on CareFirst.

If the Private Fostering Social Worker is not satisfied with the arrangements made for the care and accommodation for the child they must seek advice from their line manager or other senior Manager within the Children's Social Work Service and take appropriate steps to safeguard the child’s welfare. This may include returning the child to the Parents or suitable relative or consider exercising any other functions under the Children Act 1989 such as accommodation under Section 20 or support under Section 17 of the Act (see also Section 9, Requirements, Prohibitions and Disqualifications).

If the worker is satisfied the arrangement is suitable, letters confirming the notification of the arrangement and the requirements to notify the local authority of any changes as specified in Section 3, Notifications above should be sent to the private foster Carer and Parent as soon as possible after the initial visit. (Pro formas supplied). Communication should be in the first language of the recipient.

The social worker should ensure the child’s Parent or Carer has informed the child’s school, Health visitor and GP of the private arrangement. Otherwise consents must be obtained for the local authority to inform all relevant parties.


7. Completing the Strengthening Families Assessment

The assessment of the proposed private foster carer and their home will be undertaken in accordance with the National Minimum Standards for private fostering. Statutory checks on the private foster carers and all adult members of their household will need to be undertaken.

In an emergency situation and where the child is already in placement the local police will be asked to carry out a check on all household members over 16 to ensure there are no known factors that would place the child at risk of Significant Harm.

References will be obtained from the private foster carer’s GP, Health Visitor and one personal referee will be requested. Where it is deemed appropriate checks may be made with education, probation and any ex partners of the private foster carer.

Private fostering arrangements are unique in that the Social Worker supports all three parties to the private arrangement i.e. the Carer, the Parent and the privately fostered child. A separate case record should be opened on the Carer and the child and details of the Parent or those with Parental Responsibility will be kept on the child’s records.

The Strengthening Families Assessment should include an assessment of the Carer; the extent to which the Parent of the child is to be involved in the arrangement and their views (under the Parenting capacity dimension) and a full assessment of the child’s needs.

Copies of the Strengthening Families Assessment should be shared with the Parent(s) and those with PR and with the child if of an age to understand.

Assessing the Carer’s and arrangement suitability: Discussions with the Carer and Parent(s) should be open and honest. The Social Worker should always make it clear the welfare of the child is paramount. The Carer should be able to work in partnership with the Directorate and have a positive dialogue with the child’s Parent(s). They should be aware of the importance of the child’s health care and education and be able to give an explanation to the child as to why they are privately fostered. The Carer should demonstrate that they value and respect the child’s ethnic and cultural heritage and encourage the child to participate in local events and groups that promote his/her culture and interests.

In turn, the Parents will need to share information on the child’s routines, capabilities, interests, fears, likes and dislikes and if the child is disabled, his/her special needs. Ideally the child should have a planned introduction to the arrangement with a planned beginning and end.

Continuity and stability are key to good outcomes. The Carer should demonstrate warmth and understanding of the child’s needs. As with good Parents they should note and record significant events in the child’s life and pay attention to a balanced and appropriate diet, offering the child exercise and intellectual stimulation. Reference can be made to the guidelines for assessing local authority Carers and childminders (and to the full Private fostering regulations) although it is recognised many private foster Carers will not meet these standards during the assessment. If the arrangement remains ‘good enough’ then every effort should be made in subsequent visits to improve the care standards in the Home if this is necessary. Workers should be mindful of the option of imposing requirements and prohibitions if standards fall below a certain level.

In all cases a written agreement (pro forma supplied) should be drawn up between the Carer, the Parent/those with PR and the local authority which specifies:

  • The intended duration and arrangements for ending the arrangement as understood by the Carer and the Parent(s);
  • The wishes and feelings of the child about the proposed arrangement (in light of his/her age and understanding);
  • The financial and maintenance arrangements to support the child in the arrangement;
  • The contact arrangements with all significant persons;
  • The arrangements for medical and dental care, including, registration with a local GP and access to emergency treatment if required;
  • The arrangements for the child’s education and who will receive reports from the school and attend Parent’s evenings etc;
  • The arrangements as to how decisions about the child’s care are being taken;
  • How the local authority will provide advice and guidance; and
  • The contingency arrangements if the arrangement were to cease unexpectedly.

It is accepted that in some cases the Parent or persons with PR may be unwilling or unavailable to participate in the drawing up of a written agreement. Every effort should be made to establish communication with the birth Parent or those with PR to share the above information, to promote the welfare of the privately fostered child.

Record the above arrangements on the child’s case notes.

In cases where a Child Protection Enquiry is necessary the Social Worker should consult with their line manager and where appropriate Section 47 procedures invoked. A decision may be made at this stage to reallocate the case to a more experienced member of staff.


8. Subsequent Visits to Children who are being Privately Fostered

During the first year of the private fostering arrangement an officer of the local authority must visit each child at intervals of not more than 6 weeks and in any subsequent year at intervals of not more than 12 weeks.

In addition, the local authority must arrange for a privately fostered child to be visited when reasonably requested to do so by the child, the private foster Carer or the Parent (or other persons with Parental responsibility).

At every statutory visit the officer must:

  • Speak to the child alone (unless he/she considers it inappropriate) and record the child’s wishes and feelings in accordance with his/her age and understanding;
  • Establish the duration of the arrangement and that the details specified in the written agreement (above) are still relevant;
  • Ensure that the child’s intellectual, emotional, social and behavioural development is appropriate and satisfactory;
  • Ensure that the child’s needs arising from his/her religious persuasion, racial origin, cultural and linguistic background are being met;
  • Ensure that the suitability of the Carer and other members of the household are acceptable;
  • Ensure that the Carer still has the capacity to look after the child and that the accommodation is still suitable;
  • The overall standards of care are adequate;
  • Ensure that the financial and other arrangements are working;
  • The child’s medical and educational needs are being met;
  • The contact arrangements are satisfactory;
  • The decisions about the child’s care are being made in an appropriate and satisfactory way and that;
  • Offer advice and guidance, where appropriate;
  • Consider if any requirements, prohibitions or disqualifications are needed.

A written report to the local authority must be completed after every statutory visit. This will be recorded on the ‘statutory visit to a privately fostered child’ form.

Financial support to the child or the arrangement: The local authority can offer support to a privately fostered child or the arrangement in the form of Section 17 monies (if the child is in need). This is essentially a short term or one off payment to cover essential expenses to keep the child in the arrangement. It is recoverable from the birth Parents or those with Parental Responsibility.

Private Foster Carers are entitled to Child Benefit.


9. Requirements, Prohibitions and Disqualifications

Requirements can be imposed where a person is fostering any child privately or proposes to foster any child privately, covering the following:

  • The number, age and sex of children who may be privately fostered;
  • The standard of the accommodation and equipment to be provided for the children;
  • The arrangements to be made for the health and safety of the children;
  • And particular arrangements which may be made with the respect to the provisions of care for them e.g. the number, qualifications or experience of persons employed in looking after the children.

Ideally, requirements should be imposed before child is placed, where advanced notice has been given.

Requirements can relate to an individual child or a category of children e.g. those of a certain age.

Such requirements must be notified in writing and must inform the Carer of the reason for imposing the requirement; their right to appeal. The recipient has 14 days from when the notice is served to appeal to the Court. Requirements do not have effect while an appeal is pending.

If private foster carers refuse to comply with any requirements, seek legal advice from Legal Services, and see Section 10 of these instructions.

Prohibitions can be imposed if the local authority are of the opinion that:

  • The proposed or actual private foster carers are unsuitable to foster children; or
  • The premises are or will be unsuitable for children; or
  • It would be prejudicial to the welfare of the child to be accommodated by that person in those premises.

A prohibition imposed may prohibit a person from fostering privately:

  • Any child in any premises within the area of the local authority;
  • Any child in any premises specified in the prohibition;
  • A child identified in the prohibition, in premises specified in the prohibition.

The local authority may cancel the prohibition on any person:

  • At their own instigation; or
  • An application made by that person.

if the authority are satisfied that the prohibition is no longer justified.

Prohibitions may be imposed in addition to requirements but it can only have effect if:

  • The time specified for compliance with the requirement has expired; and
  • The requirement has not been complied with.

A prohibition must be imposed by notice in writing addressed to the person on whom it is imposed and informing him/her of:

Persons on whom a prohibition has been imposed under section 69 are disqualified from private fostering and from carrying on or being employed in a children’s Home, voluntary Home, day care or childminding.


10. Failure to Give Required Notifications

Proceedings against a private foster carer or parent who has failed to give a required notification must be brought within 6 months of the date when the local authority became aware of the offence.

The Service Manager must be notified as soon as it is known that the notification requirements have not been complied with.

A letter must be sent to the private foster carer or parent outlining their legal obligations.

When proceedings appear necessary, a report and recommendation must be submitted to the Service Manager who must seek legal advice from the Legal Services as to whether to recommend prosecution.


11. Disqualifications

Certain people are disqualified from privately fostering children. The use of a pro forma is a declaration form to be used for the Carer to give their written consent for enquiries to be made with other agencies.

The local authority, in certain circumstances, can give their consent to a person to privately foster who would otherwise be disqualified, but only if they are satisfied the child’s welfare would not be prejudiced. In such cases written consent must be given and signed by the Director of Children’s services.

If the Directorate refuses consent to allow a disqualified person to foster, the Carer may appeal to the Family proceedings Court within 14 days of the notification of that decision. (See Section 12, Appeals).


12. Appeals

The private foster carer must be notified in writing of any requirement, refusal, prohibition, condition, variation, or cancellation which is imposed and informed of his/her right to appeal to the Court within 14 days from the date on which he/she is notified of the requirement, refusal, prohibition, condition, variation or cancellation.

The requirement, condition, variation, or cancellation shall not have effect while the appeal is pending.

If the Court allows an appeal, it can:

  • Vary the requirement, or allow more time for compliance with it;

    or
  • If an absolute prohibition has been imposed, may substitute a prohibition on using the premises after a time which the Court will specify unless any requirements imposed by the local authority have been complied with.

Any requirement or prohibition specified or substituted by the Court shall be deemed to have been imposed by the local authority.

Where the Court allows an appeal against a refusal to make an exemption, a condition imposed in such an exemption or a variation or a cancellation of such an exemption, the Court may –

  • Make an exemption;
  • Impose a condition; or
  • Vary the exemption.


13. Removal of a Foster Child from Unsuitable Surroundings

See Policy statement at the start of these instructions. Discuss any concerns with the line manager or Head of Service and consider appropriate functions under the Children Act 1989. These may include returning the child to his/her Parents or other close relative; using resources under Section 17; accommodating the child under Section 20 or invoking Child Protection procedures or an Emergency Protection Order in Family Court Proceedings.


14. Children Spending Holiday Periods in Schools

Children under 16 who spend more than 2 weeks in residence during holiday time in a school become privately fostered children for the purposes of the legislation during that holiday period. (Note: This does not apply to a Children’s Home that provides ‘on-site’ education).

The person undertaking the care and maintenance of the children must give written notice to the local authority two weeks before the start of the holidays of the estimated number of children staying at the school for the holiday period.

Complete a Strengthening Families Assessment and checks as specified in Section 5, Allocation of Work above.

However, the local authority may exempt any person from giving written notice either for a specified period or indefinitely. This exemption may be revoked in writing at any time.

Where a child in these circumstances dies, the person caring for him/her at the school shall, not later than 48 hours after the death, give written notice of it:

  • To the local authority; and
  • Where reasonably practicable, to each Parent of the child and to every person who has Parental responsibility.

Where a child ceases to be privately fostered at the school, the person caring for him/her must give written notice to the local authority.


15. Termination of the Arrangement

The local authority should be notified of a child moving within 48 hours by the private foster Carer and/or the child’s Parents. This notification should be in writing and should include the details of the child’s new address and the name and relationship of the child’s new Carer.

This will include notification if the child dies.

When the child leaves the private foster carer, input relevant data into CareFirst and close the case.

Notify the local authority in whose area the child has moved (as in) Section 3 and inform the local authority where the child’s Parents reside if this is different.


16. Aftercare

A young person under 21 who was privately fostered at any time after reaching 16 qualifies for advice and assistance as defined a ‘Qualifying’ child by Section 24(2)(e) of the Children Act 1989. (See also Leaving Care Policy).


17. International Aspects

A local authority or private foster parent who are in any doubt about a child’s immigration or nationality status are strongly advised to consult with the UK Visas and Immigration at the earliest opportunity.

Where a foreign child is abandoned in a private foster Home in the U.K. seek assistance from the Protecting Children and Uniting Families Across Borders with a view to tracing the child’s Parents and arranging for the child to be returned to them.

For detailed guidance on these matters refer to the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 8.


18. Monitoring Role

The local authority shall appoint a monitoring officer who will monitor the way in which the Directorate discharges its duty and functions under part 9 of the Children Act. The monitoring officer will report annually to the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.

In order to monitor the effectiveness of the way the Children's Social Work Service discharges its duties and functions in relation to private fostering, the local authority will ensure that:

  • Accurate, comprehensive, well organised and confidential records are kept;
  • The numbers of privately fostered children and private foster carers living in the local authority’s area are monitored;
  • The circumstances of each privately fostered child are reviewed;
  • New notifications are recorded on CareFirst;
  • The local authority will through the Safeguarding and Quality Assurance Unit provide a written report each year, for consideration by the Director of Children’s Services, on the outcomes of its work in relation to privately fostered children within its area;
  • The local authority will, through the Performance and Safeguarding Team, provide a written report each year, for consideration by the Director of Children’s Services, on the outcomes of its work in relation to privately fostered children within its area;
    • Compliance with required timescales for action to be taken on receipt of a notification;
    • Decisions about the overall suitability of arrangements;
    • Frequency of visits to privately fostered children;
    • That children are seen alone, and with an independent interpreter; where the child’s preferred language is not English;
    • That written reports are made in accordance with the regulations;
    • That decisions about the suitability of arrangements are confirmed at managerial level;
    • That concerns raised by privately fostered children are addressed.


19. Language Schools

Language schools are legally required to notify the Local Authority of any children who are placed with a host family for longer than 28 days as they are directly involved in arranging the placement. As such the language school is acting as the parent. Nevertheless, the parent of the child should be involved with the arrangements and remain responsible for ensuring the well being of their child.

The assessment of private foster carers and the arrangements for the child are the responsibility of the Private Fostering Social Worker.

The process to be followed:

19.1 Notification Requirements

The language school must notify the Front Door for Families of a private fostering arrangement with a host family. This should be within the 6 week notification period and prior to the child being placed with the host family. If the child is placed in an emergency the language school should notify the Local Authority within 48 hours.

PLEASE NOTE:

It is the responsibility of the Language School to ensure that DBS checks are completed for ALL household members of host families over the age of 16 years. Where no DBS checks have been completed, this will be deemed to be an unsuitable arrangement by the local authority.

As well as notifying the local authority, the language school will be asked to send the Brighton and Hove City Council Private Fostering leaflet and information to the child and their parents once a place at the language school for the proposed period has been agreed. These may need to be translated by the language school.

The language school will also be asked to send the appropriate leaflet and information about private fostering to the host family.

Notification requirements: See Section 4, Requirements of a Notification.

19.2 Allocation of Work

See Section 5, Allocation of Work.

Note: If the BHCC leaflets and information in relation to private fostering have not been sent to the parents and child by the language school, these will be sent by the social worker. These may need to be translated. Private Fostering Leaflets are available in 5 Languages: Bengali, French, Somali, Yoruba and Welsh are available on the CoramBAAF Somebody Else’s Child website.

If the child’s parents have not been involved in the arrangements made by the language school, or where an agent has made the arrangements at the request of the parents, or where the child will only be placed with the host family for a short period, it may not be appropriate to send information or an agreement to the parents.

A questionnaire will be included in the documentation given to the child.

19.3 Completing the Assessment

See Section 7, Completing the Strengthening Families Assessment.

Note: Where the child is to remain with the host family for less than 12 weeks, the assessment will be adapted to assess the suitability of the host family to meet the child’s health, safety, religious and cultural needs for the duration of their stay. Other professionals involved with the child should be notified of the private fostering arrangement.

19.4 Summary: Responsibilities of Language Schools and Private Foster Carers/Host Families

A DBS check on each member of the Host Family household (aged over 16 years) will be completed. This check should be facilitated by the Language School and reviewed every three years.

It is the responsibility of the Language School to ensure that DBS checks are completed for ALL household members of host families over the age of 16 years. Where no DBS checks have been completed, this will be deemed to be an unsuitable arrangement by the local authority.

Appropriate arrangements for the child’s medical, dental care and treatment should be made and agreed by the parents, the private foster carers and the child (according to their age and understanding).

The child must be included on a GP’s list. This is generally the responsibility of the language school who should have obtained written permission from the parents for medical treatment.

The host family should be informed about the arrangements for the child’s medical care and have an emergency number to contact the school out of school hours.

Arrangements should be made for the child to receive appropriate education. During the period that the child is with the private foster carer, this is likely to be through the language school.

Arrangements should be made to ensure that the child’s religious, racial, cultural and linguistic needs are met. The language school should give information and guidance to the private foster carers about how they can support the child with any cultural or religious issues or practices.

Arrangements should be made to ensure that the child’s physical, intellectual, social and behavioural developments are met during their stay with the host family. (The assessment will indicate whether the host family can meet their needs). The language school will need to consider arranging activities and outings as well as providing the child with education during their stay.

Arrangements should be made between the language school and the private foster carer for the child to have contact (direct or indirect) with their family at home.

The child should be given the contact details of a named social worker, and information about an advocacy service and if appropriate have details of their status.

A written agreement should be made in respect of the above arrangements and this should be reviewed on every statutory visit by a Social Worker.

A host family who are deemed to be private foster carers will be provided with any necessary help and advice to assist them to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. Where appropriate the private foster carer should be given information about the child’s needs in relation to his cultural, racial, linguistic and religious needs. In some circumstances an interpreter may be required.

The parent or the private foster carer or the language school must notify the local authority about changes of address, household composition or the knowledge of any offence within the host family.

19.5 Summary: Responsibilities of the Local Authority

19.5.1 Assessing the Private Foster Carers’ Suitability

The Local Authority must satisfy itself about the suitability of arrangements, carers and premises. In Brighton and Hove this duty will be undertaken by the Team Manager (UASC/NRPF/IH, Southwark and Private Fostering) who will make a decision based on the notification by the private foster carer and the assessment reports prepared by the social worker. This will be a paper exercise, but could involve holding a meeting to include the child (if appropriate), the parents and the private foster carers to consider the completed assessment.

19.5.2 Concerns About the Suitability of a Private Foster Carer

A language school should inform the local authority if it has any concerns about a private fostering arrangement with a host family. In such instances, the local authority may have to use its statutory powers under the Children Act 1989 to assess and ensure that the child is being safely cared for. There may be occasions where the child should not continue to be looked after by their private foster carers and if neither the parents nor the language school can make alternative appropriate arrangements for the child the local authority may need to place the child in suitable accommodation.

The Private Fostering Arrangements require the local authority to satisfy itself of the suitability of any private fostering arrangements within its area, or to exercise its powers by prohibiting the arrangement, or imposing requirements on the arrangement before the child is placed - if sufficient notice is given.

The Local Authority can prevent the placement if the person is disqualified under the terms of the Children Act 1989 or falls within the prohibitions of the Act (Part 1X, ‘Private Fostering’ Sections 68 and 69).

A disqualified person can appeal against a decision to refuse consent for them to privately foster children.

19.5.3 The Responsibilities of the Private Fostering Social Worker

Once the assessment is completed, the responsibility for monitoring and supporting the child and the private foster carer will lie with the Private Fostering Social Worker.

A child placed through a language school and his/her carers have the same rights as any other family in the community to be assessed for help, including financial help, under Section 17 (Children Act 1989). This includes help from other agencies.

The Private Fostering Social Worker will visit the privately fostered child at 6 weekly intervals in the first year and at 12 weekly intervals thereafter or more often if this is required. Although it is unlikely that a child will remain with a host family for longer than a year some students do stay for several years.

The child should be seen alone at each visit. Their bedroom should also be inspected and a record should be made of the visit.

The arrangements for the child should be reviewed by the social worker at every visit to ensure that they remain appropriate to the child’s circumstances. The parents or their agent should be kept informed about the child’s well-being and progress.

End