West Sussex County Council need to know if you have a private fostering agreement. They urge people to come forward and let them know.
Private fostering occurs when a parent or someone with parental responsibility arranges for the care of a child under the age of 16 (18 if registered disabled) that continues for 28 days or longer by an adult(s) who is not a close relative.
For example, children living with family friends on a long-term basis due to a parent’s ill health or a family breakdown, overseas students living with a carer or ‘host family’ for more than 28 days, or a teenager living with friends.
While this is a private arrangement, legally the parent and carer must notify the County Council to ensure the child or young person is being properly looked after.
David and Nicola (names have been changed) are the private foster carers of a teenage girl in West Sussex.
David said: “Through our work, my wife had built up a strong relationship with the girl, who came to us with a cry for help really.
“She began staying with us, on and off, for weekends before living with us full-time around November and it’s given her stability.
“It hasn’t been easy – financially it has been hard for us because you don’t get the financial assistance that ‘regular’ foster carers receive, but it has been worth the sacrifices to be able to give her a secure home.
“The assistance we have had from the County Council has been brilliant. The family support workers we have worked with have been hugely supportive.
“They have gone out of their way to give us advice and they have helped us to build links with other services, charities and support networks where we could get help and apply for grants.
“It’s been hugely beneficial to us, as her carers, to know where we can go for support.”
The names and identities have been changed to protect the identity of the young person being looked after.
A close relative (in relation to private fostering) is an uncle, aunt, step-parent, grandparent or sibling. Other relatives (by blood or marriage) and family friends do not count as close relatives.