Private fostering is the term used when a parent places a child under school leaving age in the care of someone else who is not a close relative or officially approved foster carer for a period of more than 28 days.
Fife Council has a responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of all private fostered children so we need to carry out a number of checks on both the child and the prospective carers so that parents can be reassured that their child is safe and with suitable people. The most important aspect of private fostering is the wellbeing of the child and these reports and checks are there so that the Social Work Service can provide you with any advice and support you might need.
Information for Staff
It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of children. It is the responsibility of Fife Council to monitor and support private fostering arrangements but many parents and private foster carers may not be aware of their responsibility to notify the local authority, when putting these arrangements for children in place.
If you are a member of staff in any service or agency (within or outwith Fife Council) who has contact with a child or their family, and suspect a private fostering arrangement is happening or about to happen then you should make enquiries about who has parental rights and responsibility for the child. Please bring to their attention that they must inform Fife Council, if private fostering is identified.
Some parents will have legitimate reasons for involving someone else in caring for their child over an extended period of time but equally some children could effectively have no one concerned for their safety or welfare.
It is important not to regard all arrangements as suspicious but to have an awareness of areas where children could be at risk and keep alert to child trafficking risk indicators while establishing whether any living arrangements should be treated as private fostering. Children trafficked into the UK are especially vulnerable and may not come to light until health or welfare concerns are raised. Child trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring and/or receipt of children for exploitation, including domestic servitude, commercial sexual exploitation and to support benefit claims.
If there is any suspicion that the child is at risk, then child protection processes must be followed.
The information ‘Be Safe, Be Sure – information for services in contact with children about Private Fostering’ and 'Practice Guidance for Local Authority Children's Services' contain further information.