Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, expected to last 28 days or more. Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity).
The law requires parents, prospective private foster carers and anyone involved in arranging for a child to be privately fostered to notify Cheshire East Council of the arrangement. However, many private foster carers (prospective and actual) parents and those working with children and families are not aware of the notification requirements. As a result, many private fostering arrangements remain hidden, leaving some children vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
Privately fostered children come from all walks of life and can include:
-Children sent from abroad to stay with another family, usually to improve their educational opportunities;
-Children whose parents have gone away
-Teenagers who, having broken ties with their parents, are staying in short term arrangements with friends or other non-relatives;
-Children of prisoners placed with distant relatives;
-Language students living with host families