SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
Children's Social Care Services must satisfy itself that the welfare of children who are privately fostered in Calderdale is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted. This is a statutory duty in relation to The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005.
Please see the Local Resources for the Private Fostering Assessment Proforma and letter templates.
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTERIn January 2020, a new Section 11, After the Private Fostering Arrangement Ends was added.
The definition of a privately fostered child is a child:
A child who is Looked After or placed in any residential home, hospital or school (where they are receiving full time education) is excluded from the definition. In a private fostering arrangement the parent retains Parental Responsibility.
However, Children under 16 who spend more than 2 weeks in residence during holiday time in a school, become privately fostered children for the purposes of the legislation during that holiday period.
(Note: the local authority may exempt any person from giving written notice either for a specified period or indefinitely. This exemption may be revoked in writing at any time).
The emphasis of these procedures is on satisfaction about the child's welfare. Children's Social Care only has the power to act in circumstances where something is wrong. The steps that we are required to take are explained in these procedures.
There is a requirement on parents and proposed private foster carers to notify the local authority of proposed or existing arrangements.
The prospective or existing private foster carer should be advised of the need to inform the local authority and that this notification must be made in writing and reflect the following timescales and information.
Regulation 3 (1) of the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 state that the person proposing to privately foster a child should notify the local authority:
A person who has given advance notice of a date upon which a private fostering arrangement is to start must, within 48 hours of the start of the arrangement, notify the local authority of its commencement.
There are several sets of circumstances in which staff may become aware of existing and prospective private fostering arrangements. These are:
When an enquiry or notification is received on a child not known or closed to Children's Social Care, a contact / referral should be created with the names and details of all parties and recorded on the Child's Electronic Record.
The date the private fostering arrangement commenced should be entered on the Private Fostering Assessment document on CASS. Private foster carer details should be entered on to the electronic record so that their names are linked with the child.
When notification of a private fostering arrangement has been received, Children's Social Care should satisfy itself that the welfare of the child or children is being safeguarded.
A statutory visit must be completed within 7 working days and a Child and Family Single Assessment undertaken to ensure that the child's welfare is safeguarded. The assessment will consider the suitability of the proposed arrangement by:
Written consent should be obtained from all members of the household over 16 to carry out Disclosure and Barring Service Checks. In order to avoid any delay in the assessment process, the DBS forms should be taken on the initial visit for the appropriate members of the household to complete. The completed forms are to be sent immediately for the checks to be undertaken. The Child and Family Single Assessment is to be completed within 15 working days of notification.
If there are concerns about the immediate safety and well-being of the child the Team Manager will, in consultation with the relevant Service Manager and the Legal Department, take whatever action is necessary in order to safeguard the child and follow the West Yorkshire Consortium Procedures.
Financial responsibility for the care of the child remains with the parent or person(s) with Parental Responsibility. They are expected to negotiate with the private foster carer regular payments to cover the cost of the child's care. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Private Foster Carer may be able to make an application to the Child Maintenance Service, but will in the first instance need to seek guidance from Child Maintenance Options (telephone number 0800 171 2345), who will give free, impartial and confidential information specific to their circumstances, as well as support in setting up the best child maintenance arrangement for them.
The private foster carer should seek to claim child benefit and any tax credits available. Impartial guidance, support and advice can be provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau.
It is not usually appropriate to make payments to private foster carers under Section 17 Children Act 1989. However, consideration may be given offering short term payments in cases where essential items are required before other benefits are processed. If regular financial assistance under Section 17 Procedures is required, this should be considered within the assessment process and approval must be sought from the relevant Service Manager.All financial arrangements and advice given is to be recorded on the Private Fostering Assessment document.
All children who meet the definition of a private fostering arrangement (who are new or closed cases) should be the subject of a Child and Family Single Assessment and a Private Fostering Assessment; these assessments can be undertaken at the same time. If the case is open, and a recent assessment or multi-agency meeting has taken place which addresses a potential family breakdown then a Private Fostering Assessment should commence. The Assessment must provide information in regard to parents/person(s) with Parental Responsibility as well as carers. There are specific legal requirements under The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 Schedule 2 which must be considered during the assessment of any private fostering situation. The overall objective of the assessment is to establish if the private fostering arrangement is likely to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child by:
Information should be collated by the Social Worker by:
Following the completion of a Child and Family Single Assessment if applicable the Private Fostering Assessment is to be completed within 45 working days and should only exceed this timescale if the DBS has not been received by the local authority.
On completion of the Private Fostering Assessment by the allocated worker the Practice Manager will review and quality assure the assessment, but will not sign off the document. The Team Manager will review the assessment and record a recommendation regarding approval giving due regard to the following:
Within the Team Manager's recording they will document any actions to be taken or requirements, which may include but not limited to; visiting patterns, identifying alternative placement, instigating a Section 47 enquiry. The Team Manager will submit for sign off to the appropriate Service Manager to approve/not approve the arrangement. An e-mail is also to be sent to the Service Manager and their Personal Assistant (PA) with the private fostering document attached to request sign off of the assessment on the electronic system. The decision by the Service Manager will be made within 5 working days of the request being sent.
If the recommendation is not to approve the Private Fostering arrangement, the Team Manager will record the reason(s) why and send a request to the appropriate Service Manager to ratify the proposal.
Following the decision by the Service Manager to approve or not approve the private fostering arrangements, the Team Manager will notify the private foster carer, the person(s) with parental responsibility and the young person in writing of the decision and stating:
The appropriate pro forma letter should be used and a copy of the letter should to be put on the child's electronic file by the Social Worker. See the Local Resources for the letter template.
If the Private Fostering assessment does not proceed after being opened, the Team Manager will record an explanation why it has not been completed within the document and close the assessment. Service Manager approval is not required in these circumstances.
Children's Social Care has the power to prohibit private fostering if:
Where the information gained during the assessment indicates that the child's welfare may not be adequately safeguarded via the Private Fostering Arrangements, legal advice should be sought by the Team Manager before seeking approval from the Service Manager to prohibit the arrangements.
Any decision to prohibit a private fostering arrangement should be made by a Service Manager of the service which undertook the assessment.
Following the decision by the Service Manager to not approve the private fostering arrangements, the carers and parents must be notified in writing by the Team Manager stating:
Legal advice should be sought prior to the letter being sent.
The pro forma letter should be used and a copy of the letter to be put on the child's electronic file by the Social Worker, and the Team manager record the decision within 48 hours (see Local Resources for the proforma letter).
Further action regarding the placement of this child should take place within 48 hours in consultation with the parent regarding the making of alternative arrangements for the child.
Children's Social Care is required to make visits to each child who is privately fostered. The initial visit must be made by the social worker within 7 days of notification of a Private Fostering arrangement.
Following approval of the Private Fostering arrangement, further visits at a minimum of once every 6 weeks in the first year are to be undertaken or more frequently if required.
In the second and subsequent years visits should occur at a minimum of once every 12 weeks.
After each visit a Child in Need visit document should be completed by the Social Worker. Additionally, the local authority must arrange for every child who is fostered privately to be visited by a social worker when reasonably requested to do so by:
Private Fostering Review Meetings using the Child In Need Review document should be held 4 weeks after approval and thereafter every 6 months. Review meetings can be held more frequently if required.
Good practice would suggest that the Child and Family Single Assessment should be updated within 6 months and as a minimum 12 monthly thereafter.
If there is any new information received e.g. domestic abuse notification or a significant change for the child, the Child and Family Single Assessment should be updated and the arrangements re-assessed.
The DBS check should be renewed every 3 years, as a minimum.
A private foster carer must notify Children's Social Care of:
If the private foster carer has moved to another local authority then the new local authority must then be notified in writing by the Social Worker of:
The Social Worker should include any assessments that have been completed.
Request a form transfer of the case (see Section 12, Cross Boundary Issues).
Changes should be entered on the electronic recording system by the Social Worker.
If information notified by the private foster carer AND/OR information identified during statutory visits shows that:
Consideration must be given by the Team Manager to prohibiting the private fostering arrangements or imposing requirements. Prior to any decision to prohibit a private fostering arrangement, regard should be given to reviewing the Child and Family Single Assessment in order to inform decision making. This will be at the discretion of the Service Manager and without compromising the welfare of the child. Further action maybe required under Child Protection Procedures in order to safeguard the child. A discussion should also take place with the parent regarding the making of alternative arrangements for the child.
If the child returns to the care of their parent or the person with parental responsibility an updated Child and Family Single Assessment should be undertaken in order to ensure there are no outstanding safeguarding issues, unmet needs or additional support services require.
In the event the child moves to a different Private Fostering placement, an up dated Child and Family Single Assessment will need to be undertaken and a new Private Fostering Assessment completed, in order to approve or not approve the new 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.
Unless a young person has a disability, private fostering ends at 16. Children's 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, they should be assisted as a Child In Need. Where the young person moves to independent living, support can be provided to them up as they will fall within the definition of Qualifying Young People. (Note that the DfE Volume 3: planning transition to adulthood for care leavers acknowledges that some ‘Qualifying children’ will be as vulnerable and have similar support needs as those who are Eligible, Relevant or Former Relevant).
Support may include advice, befriending and discretionary financial assistance where the young person has no other means. It will be provided at the request of the young person on the basis of assessment of need and can continue up to the age of 25 or beyond if the young person is in higher education, up to the end of the course. Note that in these circumstances, it is possible also for the local authority to also provide vacation holiday accommodation.
Any request by the young person should be made to the local authority in which they are resident or where the education and training is being provided.See Leaving Care Procedure.
Under The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 (2), it is the responsibility of the local authority where the private foster carers reside to assess and approve the arrangement. The child's "home" local authority should be notified and their views sought regarding the arrangement.
Where the child has ongoing social work involvement discussions should be held between the allocated Social Worker and the local authority undertaking the private fostering assessment, as to how best to proceed with the assessment.
If the private fostering arrangement is approved and the child moves or has moved to that placement then formal transfer of the case should take place with the other local authority.If a child returns to the care of their parents or person with parental responsibility the local authority where they resides should be notified so that a further assessment can be undertaken.
In a situation where a privately fostered child has died, the local authority needs to follow the relevant procedures operated by the Calderdale Safeguarding Children Partnership in relation to child deaths (see West Yorkshire Consortium Safeguarding and Children Procedures - Section 4, Child Deaths).
Only valid for 48hrs