If your child is living with someone else you may have a private fostering arrangement.
What is private fostering?
It is an arrangement a parent makes for their child to live with someone who is not a close relative or guardian, for longer than 28 days.
A close relative or guardian is defined as a step-parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle, or someone who has parental responsibility.
If you care for someone else's child, who is under the age of 16 years (or 18 years if disabled) for 28 days or more, at any one time, and you are not a guardian or close relative, you are privately fostering.
It is estimated that approximately 20,000 children in the United Kingdom live away from home in private fostering arrangements. However, less than 50% of these arrangements are registered.
What do you need to do?
Both the parent of the child and those providing the child's care must inform the council of the arrangement at least 6 weeks before it begins.
If you are currently caring for someone else's child, and you have not informed the local authority, you must do so immediately.
Why do I need to inform my local authority?
Although it is a private agreement between parents and care providers, there are now regulations about how a privately fostered child is looked after. The local authority has a duty and responsibility to check these regulations are carried out.
Caring for someone else's child is a big responsibility. You need to love and care for this child, work in partnership with the parents, regardless of where the parents live, and be able to 'let go' of the child when their time with you comes to an end.
The local authority will offer you support in meeting these commitments, as well as offer you advice if you are considering privately fostering someone else's child.
Who do I contact in my local authority
You can contact the Duty and Assessment Team on 020 8227 3882, 020 8227 3852 or 020 8227 3860.
Someone will arrange to visit you to talk about the circumstances and how they can best support you and the child.
If you are the child's parent, we will help you to make sure your child is kept safe and cared for, during the time you are unable to have your child with you.