Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 – under 18 if disabled – is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a "close relative". This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more.
Close relatives are:
- brothers or sisters
- uncles or aunts, whether of full blood, half blood, marriage or affinity
All parents and private foster carers must notify us to avoid missing out on welfare checks for the children, and other support services.
What private foster carers need to do
The law says private foster carers in Thurrock must advise us of their intention to foster a child at least 6 weeks in advance, or in emergency cases within 4 hours of the child’s arrival. Private foster carers must also let us know when a child leaves their care, giving the name and address of the person they are moving on to.
What birth parents need to do
Birth parents must pass on as much information as possible about the child to the carers, such as:
- health records
- dietary requirements
- school records
If the private foster carer hasn't informed us of the arrangement then the birth parent should do so as soon as possible.
What we will do
We will make sure all private fostering arrangements are safe for the child, but we can only do this if we are aware of the arrangement.
Once informed of the arrangement we will:
- make regular visits to the child
- make sure advice, help and support is available when needed
Cultural and ethnic issues
Traditionally, many west African children – mainly Nigerian – are privately fostered. It is important that these children maintain their sense of cultural and racial identity and that their particular needs (diet, skin care and hair care for example) are understood and met by their foster parents.
Your social worker or health visitor can give advice on these issues. If you are privately fostering a foreign child, you should make sure that immigration papers are in order and his or her immigration status is clear.
Checklist for private fostering
If you are private fostering:
- ensure the child is enrolled in school
- let us know that you intend to foster
- get written consent from parents to have care of the child
- keep in touch with the child's parents
- make sure you have background information, including medical history, for the child before you foster
- if the child is from abroad check his or her immigration status
- register the child with your doctor
: 0800 652 1256 (freephone)