Types of family and friends care
The child’s parents have asked you to look after the child
If you are not a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling or step-parent and the child’s parents have asked you to look after their child for more than 28 days, this is classed as a private fostering arrangement. The parents retain full parental responsibility for the child and should make sure they have everything they need. The private foster carer does not gain any parental responsibility but can act in loco parentis. This means they can take immediate steps to keep a child safe and well.
By law, anyone involved in a private fostering arrangement must inform children’s services six weeks before the child comes to live with you, as children’s services have a legal duty to assess this arrangement. If the six weeks have elapsed, children’s services should be notified as soon as possible. Any professionals (this includes GPs and schools) should inform children’s services of private fostering arrangements as soon as they become aware of them.
Examples of private fostering include:
- A child living with a friend’s family
- A child from overseas staying with a host family while attending a language school
- A child living with someone from their extended family such as a great aunt or a cousin
- A child staying with another family because their parents work long or unsociable hours
What is not private fostering?
- When the arrangement has been made by Norfolk County Council (visit Fostering)
- When a child is living with a close relative (their grandparents, aunt, uncle, brother, sister or step-parents)
- When the person looking after the child is an approved foster carer
- When the child will only be away for a one-off period of a few days or even a week or two
What happens after you have told us about the arrangement?
Your private fostering arrangement may be a good option for everyone concerned. We will offer support and will not interfere unnecessarily, however we have a legal duty to work with the parents and private foster carer to check and assess how suitable the arrangements are. This involves:
- Visiting the child and private foster carer regularly
- An assessment of the child’s needs and what should be done to meet them
- Offering advice and guidance to the child, their parents and the private foster carer
- Supporting the carer in claiming any eligible benefits, such as child benefit
Unlike regular fostering there is no financial support available from the County Council, however financial arrangements may be made between the private foster carer and the child’s parents. The private foster carer can also claim child benefit and child tax credits for the child.
This arrangement is considered to be a private fostering arrangement until either:
- The child becomes 16
- The child is disabled and becomes 18
- The living arrangements change to a different type of arrangement
You can notify Norfolk children’s services of a private fostering arrangement by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 0344 800 8020.
Children's services have asked you to look after the child
The child will not be considered a looked after child and neither will of you will have a social worker.
The child will not be considered a looked after child, and neither will of you will have a social worker. The child arrangements order will clarify if anyone gains parental responsibility by the granting of the order.