When a child or young person is looked after for more than 28 days by someone who is not their parent, legal guardian or close relative, this is called private fostering.
A close relative means a step-parent, grandparent, brother or sister, aunt or uncle by blood, marriage or civil partnership.
When you need to report a private fostering arrangement
If you live in Sheffield, you should tell us if you're caring for a child under 16 (or under 18 if they're disabled) as a private foster carer. It is an offence not to do so.
Examples of privately fostered children include:
- children and young people living apart from their families
- children with parents overseas
- children living with host families or "education guardians"
- children on holiday exchange
If you’re planning to have your child privately fostered you should let us know beforehand, preferably 6 weeks before the arrangement starts. If it's an emergency arrangement, or the child is already privately fostered, you should speak to us as soon as possible.
Why you should report a private foster arrangement
It's our legal responsibility to then make sure that any child going into private foster care will be looked after properly and that both parents and foster carers understand their roles and responsibilities. When we are notified of a private fostering arrangement we work together with the child, the parents and the private foster carers to ensure that the best possible arrangements are in place for the child, including:
- listening to what the child wants
- arranging for a worker to support the child and the carer(s)
- helping carer(s) to fill in the necessary forms to apply to be a private foster carer
- helping to ensure that the child’s cultural, linguistic and religious needs are being met
- workers are required to undertake regular visits to see the child and their carer(s)
- workers offer support and advice and can signpost to other agencies as necessary
If we think the arrangement is unsuitable we will decide what action to take to safeguard the child’s welfare.
How to report a private foster arrangement
We need to be aware of the start date and reason for the arrangement with names, addresses, contact details and dates of birth of each child, their parents, carers and any other children over 16 in the household.