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4.11 Private Fostering

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 28 days and who are NOT subject to any order or arrangement that would place them in the care of the local authority. This should not be confused with a placement of a Looked After child with a Fostering Agency.

All young people between the ages of 16 and 18 who have been privately fostered are eligible to support from Leaving Care Services when their placements end.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was fully reviewed in May 2016 throughout to provide additional detail in respect of the Private Fostering process and to recognise the joint working between the children’s team social worker and the Fostering social worker. Contact details for notifications of Knowsley Private Foster Carers are included in Section 3, Notifications to the local Authority.


Contents

  1. Definition
  2. Business Process for Private Fostering
  3. Notifications to the local Authority
  4. Action to be taken on Receipt of Notification
  5. Initial Visit to Private Foster Carers
  6. Assessment of Private Foster Carers
  7. Financial Support to Private Foster Carers
  8. Imposing Requirements on Private Foster Carers
  9. Limit on Number of Children
  10. Prohibition and Disqualification
  11. Non-compliance with Requirements
  12. Visits to the Private Foster Home - Frequency, Purpose and Records
  13. Review of Private Foster Carers
  14. Local Authority Foster Carers who Privately Foster
  15. After the Ending of an Arrangement
  16. Death of a Privately Fostered Child
  17. Private Fostering Checklist


1. Definition

A privately fostered child is a child under 16 (or 18 if disabled) who is cared for by an adult who is not a Parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sister or brother (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step parent where the child is to be cared for in that person's home for 28 days or more.

A child who is Looked After by a local authority or placed in any residential home, hospital or school is excluded from the definition. In a private fostering arrangement, the parent retains Parental Responsibility.


2. Business Process for Private Fostering

Reference should be made to the Private Fostering Checklist - see Section 17, Private Fostering Checklist.

Social Worker should record a Contact in respect of a child who has been living for over 28 days with a person who is not a close relative (examples of close relates are mother, father, married stepfather/mother, aunt, uncle, grandparent (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership)) and who does not have Parental Responsibility via a legal agreement or court order.

Contact Outcome code should be Private Fostering Arrangement, and the Reason code Private Fostering Enquiry. If the child is not already an open case the outcome should be Progress to Referral. Where the child is an open case the outcome should be to Existing Referral and Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment.

The outcome of the Referral should be the further actions of Single Assessment and Private Fostering Arrangement and the Category of Need N8 - Absent Parenting.

Once the referral process is concluded, the tasks of Single Assessment and Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment must be assigned to the same social worker and opened together. (NB if the decisions on one are completed before the other is opened, it will not be possible to start it at all).

The allocated social worker must contact Knowsley Fostering Service to arrange a joint visit with a Fostering Social Worker and the visit must take place within the Single Assessment period, but no later than 7 days following the date the contact was received and that this is normal days not working days.

NB the child must be seen as a matter of urgency and their wishes and feelings recorded and taken into account as part of the assessment.

It is important that the demographics for the child, their birth family and private fostering family are included and clearly recorded on ICS.

During this time a PNC check should be undertaken in respect of the Private Foster Carers and any other adult living in their household. There is also the issue of the DBS and agency checks that need to be completed, and the documentation regarding Private Fostering Assessment. The Private Foster Carers will also need to undergo a medical as part of the assessment process.

The Single Assessment must concern the child's birth family circumstances and once completed and finalised can be fed forward into the Private Fostering Arrangement Assessment, which concerns the circumstances of the child in the private fostering arrangement.

As an outcome of the Single Assessment it is possible to provide support to the private fostering placement, and if this is assessed as necessary the Initial Plan should be completed as part of the Single Assessment. Specifically, financial arrangements must be included in the Single Assessment and a financial assessment undertaken where the Private Foster Carers are requesting financial support.

If no services are immediately required the outcome of the Single Assessment should be Other Action (the system will then require the worker to specify what actions are involved).

Once the Single Assessment is completed on the system the task of completing the Private Fostering Arrangement suitability Assessment should be reassigned to the Fostering Social Worker. The assessment will then be completed jointly with the child’s social worker.

Although these forms should be completed sequentially, the assessment between the Child Care Team and the fostering service should be jointly undertaken and its outcomes jointly agreed. If the private fostering arrangement is seen as appropriate to the child's needs, then the outcome of the Private Fostering Assessment must be Visits under Regulation 8, (see below).

If the private fostering arrangement is assessed as unsatisfactory, or the child's circumstances are such that there would be a risk of Significant Harm if they were to be returned to the care of their parents, then the case should be progressed to a Single Assessment and a decision reached as to whether child protection procedures should be invoked, the child should be returned to their parents care, child should be made subject to S20 accommodation or subject of legal proceedings.

Visits under Regulation 8

Choose Visits under Regulation 8. This leads to a screen containing a Private Fostering Agreement. The Decisions tab gives the following three options:

Private Fostering Arrangement Visits under Regulation 8

This leads to a series of screens where it is possible to record the detail of the mandatory regulation 8 visit, which must be carried out at a minimum of once every six weeks in the first year and thereafter every three months. Additional visits should be arranged if requested by the child or the carer. The child should be seen and spoken to and their sleeping arrangements inspected at each visit. The final screen allows the writer to terminate the Private Fostering Arrangement which can only be decided following a Regulation 8 visit. This will then progress to Referral closure by the Team Manager.

Forms

All documents completed must be recorded in ICS. NB where signatures are required they must be scanned in and stored in ICS.


3. Notifications to the Local Authority

Where a child is to be placed with Private Foster Carers, the local authority must be notified in writing at least 6 weeks before an arrangement begins (this should not be confused with the placement of a Looked After child with a Fostering Agency).

Any agency who becomes aware of a Private Fostering arrangement must notify Children's Social Care within 1 working day of becoming aware of this information. Where a Private Fostering arrangement is suspected, every effort must be made to check out the living arrangements for the child with the person with parental responsibility, however if the arrangements cannot be verified the information should be referred to Children's Social Care.

Notifications should be sent in writing to MASH (see Knowsley MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) in the Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual) if the proposed Private Foster Carers reside in Knowsley or the area Children's Social Care office where the private foster carer lives. Notifications may also be made by telephone. If the Private Foster Carers reside in Knowsley then the contact number will be 0151-443-2600.

Where no prior notification of a placement is given, private foster carers must notify the local authority of the placement immediately.

The person making the notification should be asked to provide the following information:

  1. The name, gender, date and place of birth and address of the child;
  2. The racial origin, cultural and linguistic background and religion of the child;
  3. The names and address of the person giving the notice and any previous address within the last 5 years;
  4. The name and addresses of the child's parents and any previous addresses within the last 5 years;
  5. If different, the name and address of the person from whom the child was or is to be received;
  6. The name and address of the private foster carers and any previous addresses within the last 5 years;
  7. The name and address of any other person who is involved in making the arrangement;
  8. The name and address of any siblings of the child who are under 18, and the current arrangements for their care;
  9. The purpose and likely duration of the arrangement;
  10. The intended date when the child is to be placed with the private foster carers or the date when the placement began.

In relation to notifications given by the private foster carer or proposed private foster carer, the following information should also be obtained:

  • Any offence of which he/she or any other member of the household has been convicted;
  • Any disqualification or prohibition (see Section 10, Prohibition and Disqualification) placed on him/her or any other member of the household;
  • Any actions taken or orders made in relation to the private foster carer or any child who is or was a member of the same household;

Written notification must also be made to the local authority by the private foster carer within 48 hours of any change in circumstances for example a change of address, a change in the household, a criminal conviction/disqualification or prohibition (see Section 9, Prohibition and Disqualification) in relation to any person in the household or any intention to foster another child privately.

Where notification is that the private foster carers have moved to live in the area of another local authority, the social worker must immediately pass to the new authority the name and address of the foster carer, the name of the child being privately fostered, the name and address of the child's parents.

Where notification is that the placement has ended, the social worker should ascertain the name and address of the person now caring for the child and his or her relationship with the child.

Parents also have a duty to notify the local authority in writing of the ending of the placement including the name and address of the person into whose care the child has moved.

Any agency that becomes aware of a private fostering arrangement must immediately notify the local authority in writing of the arrangement and must inform the parent and private foster carer of their intention to do so.

See Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures.

Young people aged under 16 who live away from parents and close relatives for more than 28 days with an adult friend come within the scope of private fostering regulations, irrespective of whether the arrangement has been made by the parent, the parent is agreeable to it or the adult friend sees themselves as a carer.

Once a notification is received, a contact should be recorded on Protocol and information should be inputted in Demographics. A Single Assessment should be initiated.


4. Action to be Taken on Receipt of Notification

When notification or information is received from any source that a child is privately fostered, this information must be passed to the Children's Social Care office (MASH in Knowsley) where the privately fostered child resides.

The Private Fostering Checklist should be used and completed throughout the process to ensure that all aspects are covered completed and within timescales.

NB where a parent or person with Parental Responsibility does not agree with the placement, this cannot be deemed a Private Fostering arrangement. Consideration must be given at this time to whether the child should become a looked after child if it is agreed that they cannot return home or to another home with someone who has Parental Responsibility or an alternative and agreed private fostering or family placement.

A social worker will be allocated to carry out the following initial tasks within one week of the notification:

  1. Visit the private foster carers in the home where the child is to live and speak to them and all members of the household;
  2. Visit and speak to the child, alone unless the social worker considers it inappropriate to do so;
  3. Speak to and if possible visit the parents;
  4. Ensure that the purpose and likely duration of the private fostering arrangement is understood by and agreed between the parents and the private foster carers;
  5. Ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child about the private fostering arrangement;
  6. Check the suitability of the accommodation, the capacity of the private foster carer to look after the child, the suitability of other members of the private foster carer's household;
  7. Ensure that the parents are involved in planning for the child and explore whether the child's needs may be more appropriately met by providing services to the child and parent at home;
  8. Encourage the parents to draw up a written agreement (it may be helpful to use a Placement Plan as a guide) with the foster carers as to their respective expectations and responsibilities in relation to the fostering arrangement including financial arrangements and the child's contact with his or her parents and other significant family members; Any signed agreement from the parents must be scanned into ICS;
  9. Where the child has already been placed by the parent in the private fostering arrangement ensure that the child's development in all aspects is satisfactory, that the standard of care being given to the child is appropriate and that the child's needs arising from his or her religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background are being met;
  10. Where the child has already been placed in the private fostering arrangement, check that the financial matters are in order and the contact arrangements are working;
  11. Notify the relevant health and education agencies of the child's placement or proposed placement including the health visiting service where appropriate and any other agency actively involved with the child;
  12. Ensure that any necessary links are or will be established with other agencies for example because of the child's disabilities and/or special educational needs;
  13. Enter the child and the carer's details onto ICS Systems.


5. Initial Visit to Private Foster Carers

During the initial visit, the social worker should:

  1. Explain the assessment process to the private foster carers and provide written information to them. (Information Leaflets can be provided to both the private foster carers and the child);
  2. Obtain the written consent of the private foster carer and all members of the household over 16 to checks being made with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and ask the private foster carer for the names of 2 personal referees;
  3. Establish the private foster carer's child care experience, access to support and views and intentions regarding behaviour management of the child;
  4. Establish the plans for contact between the child and his or her parents;
  5. Establish the private foster carer's understanding of the child's culture, and give advice in relation to resources and facilities which could assist in meeting the child's racial, cultural, religious and linguistic needs, including the use of an interpreter if necessary;
  6. Advise the private foster carer of the need for notification to Children’s Social Care and preparation of the child before any further move, and for continuity of information being passed to the next carer.

Advise the private foster carer in relation to recording the child's development, particularly incorporating the following matters:

  • Maintaining the child's medical history;
  • Keeping a file of school reports;
  • Noting dates of contact with the parents and significant others;
  • Maintaining a financial record;
  • Noting dates of contact with the Children’s Social Care;
  • Keeping a photograph album.

In the event of a refusal of any person to cooperate with the making of the necessary checks, the social worker should advise the private foster carers that they cannot be recommended as suitable and advise the parents of the reason why alternative arrangements will have to be made for the child.

Any action required by the local authority to secure the child's safety should be considered and legal advice sought as necessary.

If the initial visit takes place after the child's placement, the social worker should also:

  1. Ensure that the parents have fully informed the foster carer of the child's medical history and any current need for ongoing professional monitoring and medication, and has handed the child's personal child health records to the foster carer;
  2. Encourage the private foster carers to draw up a written agreement with the child's parents as to their respective expectations and responsibilities in relation to the fostering arrangement including the contact arrangements, finances and expected duration;
  3. Ensure that the child is registered with a GP, dentist and, if necessary, optician local to the foster home;
  4. Ensure that a school place has been arranged for the child if of school age;
  5. Ensure the parent provides the private foster carer with a written general consent to cover any necessary medical treatment and that a copy of this consent is given to the GP, dentist, optician and retained on the child's file;
  6. Advise the private foster carer that a medical examination will be arranged of the child with the health as soon as practicable after the start of the arrangement, the social worker for the child will be required to complete the required health documentation to initiate the medical with the Child Looked After (CLA) Health Team.

After the visit, the social worker should complete a written report of the meeting and pass a copy of the Designated Manager (Private Fostering) for information.


6. Assessment of Foster Carers

For Guidance on the Assessment of Private Foster Carers, see Private Fostering Guidance.

An assessment of the private foster carers will be carried out by the social worker from the Child Care Team, with advice if required from the Fostering Service.

The social worker undertaking the assessment must arrange for checks on the private foster carer, all members of the household and frequent visitors over 16 to be made with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and Children's Social Care Services (including for the areas of any previous addresses). The social worker should also seek written references and arrange to visit the personal referees.

The assessment will consider the following:

  • The suitability of the foster carer and all members of the household;
  • The suitability of the accommodation.

Once the full assessments have been completed then the Team Manager of both the Fostering Service and Child Care Team should quality assure the assessments and then the assessments with clear recommendations will be presented at Permanence Panel for a decision. Written notice of the decision must then be sent to the private foster carer and the parents, including any requirements, exemptions or prohibitions imposed - see sections on Section 8, Imposing Requirements on Private Foster Carers, Section 9, Limit on Number of Children and Section 10, Prohibition and Disqualification.

If, at any stage of the assessment of the private foster carers, information is obtained which suggests that a child already placed with the private foster carer may be a Child in Need, the manager may authorise services under a Child in Need Plan and/or a Single Assessment to be carried out alongside the assessment of the private foster carer.

In the event of a refusal of any person to cooperate with the making of the necessary checks, the social worker should advise the private foster carers that they cannot be recommended as suitable and advise the parents of the reason why alternative arrangements will have to be made for the child. Any action required by the local authority to secure the child's safety should be considered and legal advice sought as necessary.

If any information comes to light during the course of the private foster carer assessment, for example as a result of the Disclosure and Barring Service checks, which may preclude the person from privately fostering a child, the social worker should prepare a report to the Designated Manager (Private Fostering). Immediate consideration should also be given to the arrangements for the child and if necessary child protection procedures should be followed.

See Section 10, Prohibition and Disqualification.

In the event that the parents decline to make alternative arrangements or where the parents cannot be found, the social worker should consider whether any action may be required by the local authority to secure the child's safety, under the Knowsley SCB procedures, and legal advice should be sought as necessary.


7. Financial Support for Private Foster Carers

Financial support by the local authority to sustain an otherwise satisfactory arrangement may be considered and where appropriate, the social worker should seek the approval of the relevant manager for such assistance to be given.

Once the approval in principle has been given, the social worker should arrange for the private foster carers to complete a financial assessment form.

Once the completed financial assessment form has been received, it should be sent to the relevant manager for the calculation to be completed and the level determined in accordance with the scales agreed from time to time.

The relevant manager will confirm the amount of the financial support in writing to the carers once the financial assessment is complete.

The payments should be part of a Child in Need Plan. See Child in Need Planning and Review Procedure.


8. Imposing Requirements on Private Foster Carers

Where appropriate, reports to the Designated Manager (Private Fostering) can include recommendations for requirements to be imposed on the foster carers, for example to restrict the approval to an individual child or to limit the number, age or gender of children who may be cared for privately. Requirements may also relate to the standard of accommodation, health and safety matters and/or practical matters such as equipment. A requirement may include a time-scale within which the foster carer must take the necessary action.

A requirement may be varied, removed or added at any time.

Any requirements imposed must be specified in writing, together with reasons. Written notice of any requirements imposed, together with the reasons, will be sent to the private foster carer and to the parent by the social worker responsible for the assessment. The private foster carer will also be advised of the right to appeal against the requirement to the Family Court.


9. Limit on Number of Children

The maximum number of children privately fostered in any one household must not exceed 3 unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Any application for exemption from this limit must be made to the Designated Manager (Private Fostering). The application must contain the following information:

  1. The number, names and ages of the children;
  2. The proposed arrangements for the care and accommodation of the children;
  3. The intended and likely relationship between the children and the foster carers;
  4. The proposed length of the placement;
  5. Whether the welfare of the children in the placement will be safeguarded and promoted.

Exemptions will only be granted in relation to named children and will cease when the named children leave the placement.

Where an exemption is granted this will be confirmed in writing to the private foster carers.


10. Prohibition and Disqualification

A decision can be made to prohibit the proposed private foster carer from privately fostering on the basis that they are not suitable and/or the premises are unsuitable.

The fact that a Foster Carer is disqualified is a good reason upon which to seek a prohibition.

Where the social worker considers that it would be appropriate to approve a private foster carer despite the fact that he or she or a person in the household is disqualified, a written report must be presented to the Designated Manager (Private Fostering) for consideration.

Where a decision is made to prohibit a private foster carer from caring for a child, reasons for the decision must be recorded. Written notice of the decision, together with the reasons, must be sent by hand or recorded delivery post to the private foster carer and to the parent by the social worker responsible for the assessment. The foster carer will also be advised of the right to appeal against the decision to the Magistrates' Court.

Discussion should also take place with the parent as to the making of alternative arrangements for the child.


11. Non Compliance with Requirements

Where requirements which have been imposed are not complied with, the social worker must consider whether support should be provided to ensure compliance and/or consider whether to report further to the Designated Manager (Private Fostering) recommending that the private foster carer be prohibited from caring for the child, in which case the procedure for prohibitions as set out above must be followed.


12. Visits to the Private Foster Home - Frequency, Purpose and Records

12.1 Frequency

Visits by a social worker must be made to the child and the foster carer at the foster home within one week of the arrangement being made or the date when notification was received if later and then visits will be made every six weeks in the first year by the relevant social work team.

In subsequent years, visits must be at least three monthly.

The need to visit more frequently will be decided by the social worker and his or her manager depending on the circumstances and the need to visit unannounced and/or to choose times when all members of the household are likely to be present should also be considered.

Additional visits should be arranged at the request of the child or the foster carer.

The child must be seen alone by the social worker on each visit unless this is not appropriate having regard to the young age of the child or if the child does not wish to see the social worker alone. The child's bedroom should be seen on some visits.

12.2 Purpose

The purpose of and matters to be discussed at the first visit after the child's placement are set out in the procedure on Initial Visit to Foster carers - see Section 5, Initial Visit to Foster Carers.

The overall purpose of all visits is to encourage the maintenance and improvement of child care standards and check that the child's needs are met within the foster placement and in particular:

  1. To observe the overall standard of care including visiting the child's bedroom;
  2. To ensure that the child is developing satisfactorily and that his or her needs arising from religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background are being met;
  3. To speak to and ascertain the wishes of the child;
  4. To review the purpose and likely duration of the placement and ensure that arrangements with the parents are working. 

    The parent and the private foster carer should be encouraged to plan the ending of the placement and prepare the child for the change;
  5. To check that any requirements imposed are being met and check whether they need to be changed or cancelled;
  6. To ensure that the arrangements for the child's education are satisfactory;
  7. To advise or arrange advice for the private foster carer as necessary, for example in relation to the maintaining of the child's links with his or her cultural heritage or in relation to appropriate travel arrangements for the child visiting family abroad;
  8. To check that the financial arrangements for the care of the child are working. Either parents can maintain financial arrangements with the parents or the private foster carer can claim the required benefits;
  9. To ensure that the child remains registered with a GP and dentist and that any necessary health care has been provided to take account of any special health needs;
  10. To ensure that the child has access to services as required as a result of any disabilities;
  11. To enquire as to the contact arrangements for the child with the parents and siblings;
  12. To encourage the foster carer to keep a record of the child's development, including accidents, illnesses, immunisations, school reports, achievements and any contact with parents or significant others.

12.3 Reports On Visits

A report on every visit must be made by the social worker and included on Casenotes. The report must state whether the child was seen and if so, whether the child was seen alone. If the child was not seen, the reasons must be recorded. The record must comment on the child's welfare and how the placement is progressing including any views expressed by the foster carer and the child. It must also contain a recommendation about the continued suitability of the fostering arrangement and whether any action should be taken and/or requirements on the foster carer.

The report must be reviewed and sent to the manager's worktray.

12.4 Unsatisfactory Care

Where there are concerns about the child's care, the parents should be advised and consideration should be given to invoking the Assessment Framework and/or Local Child Protection Procedures/Children Looked After Procedures.


13. Review of Private Foster Carers

The suitability of the foster carer should be reviewed annually by the social worker and reported to the Designated Manager (Private Fostering).


14. Local Authority Foster Carers who Privately Foster

Where local authority foster carers notify their intention to privately foster a child, the above procedure should be followed.

In these circumstances, a fostering social worker will normally carry out the assessment.

The foster carers should be advised of the differences between their two roles.

Consideration will need to be given to the implications for any Looked After Child already placed with the foster carer and contact should be made by the family placement worker involved with the social workers for such children.

Consideration should also be given to the future placement of any Children Looked After particularly having regard to the usual fostering limit of three children.


15. After the Ending of an Arrangement

Parents have a duty to notify the local authority of the ending of the placement including the name and address of the person into whose care the child has moved.

A child who has been privately fostered after the age of 16 falls within the definition of a Qualifying Young Person for the purposes of the Leaving Care procedures. A young person aged 16 or 17 who was previously privately fostered may also be a Child in Need.

Unless a young person has a disability, private fostering ends at 16. Children's Social Care Services will review the young person's circumstances and future plans as they approach 16. Where a young person remains with the private foster carers after the age of 16, but requires continuing support, he or she should be assisted as a Child In Need. Where the young person moves to independent living, support can be provided as a qualifying care leaver up to the age of 21.

Where a young person requests help from the Leaving Care Service, he or she will be supported as a qualifying care leaver. Support may include advice, befriending and discretionary financial assistance. It will be provided at the request of the young person on the basis of assessment of need. Support can continue up to the age of 21 or beyond if the young person is in higher education, up to the end of the course.

See Leaving Care Procedure.


16. Death of a Privately Fostered Child

Where a privately fostered child dies, the social worker must visit the private foster carers to offer support and assistance in notifying the parents.

Consideration should also be given to whether there are any child protection issues and whether to invoke Child Protection Procedures.


17. Private Fostering Checklist

PROCEDURE CHECKLIST
Notifications to the Local Authority
Notification in writing at least 6 weeks before an arrangement begins.  
No prior notification - private foster carers must notify the local authority of the placement immediately.  

Information to be provided:

  • Name, gender, date and place of birth and address of the child;
  • Racial origin, cultural and linguistic background and religion of the child;
  • Names and addresses of the person giving the notice and any previous address within the last 5 years;
  • Name and addresses of the child's parents and any previous addresses within the last 5 years;
  • Name and address of the private foster carers and any previous addresses within the last 5 years;
  • Name and address of any other person who is involved in making the arrangement;
  • Name and address of any siblings of the child under 18 years;
  • Purpose and likely duration of the arrangement;
  • Intended date when the child is to be placed with the private foster carers or when placement began.
 

information required regarding the Private Foster Carers:

  • Any offence they or any other member of the household has been convicted;
  • Any disqualification or prohibition placed on them or any other member of the household;
  • Actions taken or orders made in relation to PFC or any child who is or was a member of household.
 
Written notification of any change in circumstances e.g. change of address, make up of household, criminal conviction etc.  
Was the school aware of the PF arrangement?  
Demographics.  
Action to be taken on receipt of notification
Allocation of Social Worker.  

Tasks within first week of notification:

  • Visit the PFC in the home where the child is to live and speak to them and all members of the household;
  • Visit and speak to the child alone, unless SW considers it inappropriate to do so;
  • Speak to and if possible visit the parents;
  • Ensure purpose and likely duration of PF arrangement is understood and agreed by parents and PFC;
  • Ascertain wishes and feelings of the child re PF arrangement;
  • Check suitability of the accommodation, capacity of PFC to care for child, suitability of other members of PFC household;
  • Ensure parents are involved in the planning of the child and explore whether the child's needs may be more appropriately met by providing services to the child and parent at home;
  • Encourage parents to draw up a written agreement - use a placement plan as guide - with the PFC re their expectations and responsibilities re PF arrangement, including financial arrangements, contact etc;
  • Child's development re all aspects is satisfactory, standard of care is appropriate, needs re religious, racial, cultural, linguistic background are met;
  • Financial matters are in order;
  • Contact arrangements;
  • Notification to Health and Education Agencies re placement;
  • Links with specialist agencies re: disability/SEN etc;
  • Enter the child and carer's details onto ICS Systems.
 
Initial Visit to PFC

Initial Visit:

  • Explain assessment process;
  • Provide written information to PFC;
  • Obtain written consent of PFC and household members over 16 years re checks being made with DBS;
  • Obtain two personal references;
  • Establish PFC childcare experience, access to support, views and intentions re behaviour management;
  • Establish contact arrangements;
  • Discuss child's culture, give advice re resources, support, interpreter etc;
  • Notification responsibilities of PFC re changes;
  • Recording requirements re maintaining medical history, school reports, dates of contact with parents and significant others, financial record, dates of contact with Children’s Social Care, photograph album.
 
Where anyone refuses to co-operate re checks, PFC to be advised they cannot be recommended as suitable carers and inform parents why alternative arrangements will have to be made.  
Any action needed to secure the child's safety to be considered and seek legal advice.  

Where initial visit is after placement:

  • Parents must fully inform PFC of medical history and current need re professional monitoring, medication, and handed over health records to the PFC;
  • Written agreement between parents and PFC re expectations and responsibilities re PF arrangement including contact, finances, expected duration;
  • Ensure child is registered with GP, dentist, optician, close to PF home;
  • Ensure school place is arranged;
  • Written agreement consent by parent to PFC to cover medical treatment, copy of which is given to the GP, dentist, optician and retained on file;
  • Medical examination to be arranged with GP as soon after the placement as possible.
 

After initial visit:

  • Complete written report of the meeting and pass to designated manager for Private Fostering.
 
Assessment of Private Foster Carers
By Child Care Social Worker with Fostering Service Social Worker.  
Checks on PFC and members of household over 16 years re DBS and Children's Social Care Services, including areas re previous addresses.  

Written references and arrange to visit the referees

Assessment includes:

  • Suitability of PFC and all members of the household;
  • Suitability of the accommodation.
 
Report re assessment to be presented to designated PF manager and decision to be made.  
Written notice of decision sent to PFC and parents including requirements, exemptions or prohibitions imposed.  
if at any stage in the assessment, information is obtained suggesting the child may be a CIN, services can be authorised and CIN Plan and/or Single Assessment to be carried out.  
If any information comes out of DBS or assessments, SW must prepare a report to designated PF manager and immediate consideration be given to the arrangements and where necessary CP procedures followed.  

Financial Support:

  • Can consider financial support by LA to sustain placement;
  • SW seeks approval of relevant manager;
  • PFC must complete a financial assessment form;
  • Financial calculation undertaken;
  • Level of support to be assessed;
  • Manager confirms amount of financial support in writing to the PFC;
  • Payments part of CIN plan.
 
Requirements on PFC
Report can include recommendations to be imposed on the PFC, e.g. restrict approval to an individual child, age, gender.  
Requirements may relate to standard of accommodation and health and safety matters/ equipment and could include timescale for action.  
Requirement may be varied, removed or added at any time.  
Must specify any requirement in writing including reasons to PFC by SW responsible for the assessment.  
PFC must be advised of the right to appeal to the Magistrates Court.  
Limit on number of children
Maximum children in any one household must not exceed 3, unless there are exceptional circumstances.  
Application for exemption must be made to the designated manager.  

Application must include

  • Number, names and ages of children;
  • Proposed arrangements for care and accommodation of children;
  • Intended relationship between the children and PFC;
  • Proposed length of stay;
  • Whether children will be safeguarded and promoted.
 
Exemptions only granted re named children and cease when they leave the placement.  
Exemption will be confirmed in writing.  
Prohibition and Disqualification
Can decide to prohibit proposed PFC on the basis that they are not suitable, and/ or premises not suitable.  
If PFC is disqualified it's a good reason to seek a prohibition.  
If SW is recommending PFC despite the fact that they or person in the house is disqualified, a written report must be presented to designated manager.  
If decide to prohibit a carer, the reasons for the decision must be recorded.  
Written notice of the decision including reasons must be sent by hand or recorded delivery to the carer and the parent by the SW responsible for the assessment.  
Carer will be advised of right of appeal to the Magistrates court.  
Must talk to the parent regarding alternative arrangements for the child.  
Non compliance with requirements
If requirements have been imposed and not complied with, SW must consider whether support should be provided to ensure compliance, or consider whether to report further to the designated manager recommending that the PFC be prohibited, and then follow procedure for prohibition.  
Visits
Visit within 1 week of the placement/the date when notification was received - SEE NOTES RE INITIAL VISIT TO PFC ABOVE.  
Visits every six weeks in the first year.  
After 12 months visits to be made three monthly.  
Can decide to visit more often - decision for the SW and TM depending on the circumstances.  
Must consider the need to visit unannounced and a time when all members of the household are likely to be present.  
Additional visits should be taken if requested by child or PFC.  
Child must be seen alone on each visit unless not appropriate e.g. young age of the child or child does not wish to see the SW alone.  
Must see the child's bedroom on some visits.  

Purpose of visits is to encourage the maintenance and improvement of child care standards and check that the child's needs are met within the foster placement specifically:

  • Observe overall standard of care including child's bedroom;
  • Ensure child is developing satisfactorily and needs re religion, race, culture and language are met;
  • Ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child;
  • Review purpose and likely duration of the placement;
  • Ensure arrangements with parents are working;
  • Plans between PFC and parents are in force re ending of the placement and prepare the child for change;
  • Ensure requirements imposed are being met and review to see if they need to be changed or cancelled;
  • Suitable education arrangements for the child are in place;
  • Ensure advice and support for PFC;
  • Check financial arrangements are working;
  • Child is registered with GP/Dentist and they are receiving appropriate health care;
  • Child has access to services as required re any disability;
  • Check contact arrangements for child with parents/siblings;
  • Encourage PFC to keep a record of the child's development, including accidents, illnesses, immunisations, school reports, achievements, contact and other significant events.
 
Report on Visits
Every visit must be recorded on case notes.  

Report must state:

  • Whether the child was seen;
  • Whether the child was seen alone;
  • If child not seen, why not;
  • Comment on child's welfare;
  • How the placement is progressing;
  • Include views expressed by the carer and child;
  • Recommendation about the continued suitability of the fostering arrangement;
  • Whether any action should be taken and or requirements on the PFC.
 
Report must be reviewed and sent to the Manager's worktray for authorisation.  
Unsatisfactory Care
Where there are concerns re child's care, the parents should be advised and consideration given to invoking Assessment Framework/Child Protection Procedures.  
Review of PFC
Annual review of suitability to be undertaken by SW and reported to the Designated Manager for Private Foster Carers.  
Local Authority Foster Carers who Privately Foster
Follow this procedure following notification.  
Fostering SW would carry out the assessment.  
Carers to be notified regarding the differences between their two roles.  
Consider implications for CLA already placed with carer.  
Contact by Family Placement SW to SW for CLA children placed with carer.  
Consideration re placing further CLA, also re fostering limit of three children.  
After the Placement
Parents have duty to notify the LA when placement ends, including name and address of the person into whose care the child has moved, if not them.  
Child who is privately fostered after 16 years age, falls within the definition of a qualifying young person for the purposes of the Leaving Care Procedures.  
Consideration must be given to whether the young person is also a child in need.  
Private fostering ends at 16 years of age unless the young person has a disability.  
Review of young person's circumstances and plans at 15 years of age.  
If young person remains with private foster carers after 16 years but needs ongoing support, they should be supported as a CIN.  
If the young person moves to independent living, support can be provided as a qualifying care leaver up to the age of 21 years.  
Advice and support from leaving care services including financial assistance will be provided on the basis of assessment of need up to the age of 21 years or beyond if in higher education.  
Death of Young Person Privately Fostered
SW must visit the PFC to offer support and assistance in notifying the parents.  
Consideration re whether there are any CP issues/invoke CP procedures.  

End