STATEMENT OF PURPOSE LOCAL AUTHORITY PRIVATE FOSTERING

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1 STATEMENT OF PURPOSE LOCAL AUTHORITY PRIVATE FOSTERING Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 1 of 10

2 STATEMENT OF PURPOSE BIRMINGHAM CHILDREN, YOUNG PEOPLE & FAMILIES DIRECTORATE PRIVATE FOSTERING ARRANGEMENTS 1. Introduction This Statement has been produced in accordance with the National Minimum Standards for Private Fostering which came into force on 18 th July 2005, and the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations The National Minimum Standards for Private Fostering are issued under Section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970, which requires Local Authorities in their social care functions to act under the general guidance of the Secretary Of State. The Children, Young People and Families (CYPF) Directorate will provide a copy of this Statement, upon request, to anyone assessing a private fostering arrangement, any private foster carer or prospective private foster carer and any child/young person who resides with a private foster carer. 2. The Local Authority s Duties and Functions under the Children Act 1989 and the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 Ensure arrangements are in place for notification of private fostering arrangements - this is made through the Citywide Integrated Access Team and First Response Teams across the City. Ensure that the duty to notify is publicised widely in terms of both professionals and the community see below for activity. Ensure that there is a clear process and detailed procedures of the duties of the social worker once a notification has been received and that a response is made with the timescales (Reference Child Care Procedures Sec 10C4). Ensure that advice and information is shared with both the parent and the prospective carer following the checklists outlined in section (Reference Child Care Procedures 10 C Appendix 3 and 4). Ensure management oversight and signing off of the suitability of arrangements. This is completed through the line manager of the social worker. Inform the parents and private foster carer of the suitability of arrangements, and inform them of the requirements to comply with their duties - this is completed by all allocated social workers. Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 2 of 10

3 Ensure that there is a clear process and detailed procedures of the duties of the social worker once private fostering arrangement has commenced including visiting 6 weekly in the first year and 12 weekly thereafter (Reference Child Care Procedures Sec 10C5, 10E). In Birmingham this means completing the relevant forms in Section 10C Appendix 2-5. Social worker must submit a report to the line manager following each home visit after the arrangements have started. Ensure further team manager oversight and signing off of the suitability of arrangements. Undertake CRB checks on all household members over 16. Consult with the child throughout ensuring that they are aware of their rights and who to turn to. Inform any carer of their responsibilities. 3. Definition of a privately fostered child Throughout this statement, the local authority which holds the powers and duties in respect of private fostering is the local authority for the area in which the private fostering is taking place, or the area in which it is proposed that the private fostering will take place. [Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005, Reg. 2] A private foster carer is someone who: Is caring for one or more children under the age of 16 (18 if the child is disabled), who are living in the carer s own home under an arrangement which has lasted for a continuous period of 28 days or more, or which is intended to last for a continuous period of 28 days or more, and Is not a parent or close relative of the child, and Does not hold parental responsibility for the child. [Children Act 1989 S66] The phrase "close relative" in the above definition means a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt, including half-relationships and relationships by marriage or civil partnership, or a step-parent. te that: It is not necessary for the child to remain in the private foster home for 28 days before becoming a private foster child the arrangement is a private fostering from the time that the carer forms an intention to care for the child for more than 28 days. The 28 days must be consecutive. A person does not become a private foster carer by looking after a child for a series of periods each of which is shorter than 28 days. The exchange of money is not relevant to the definition. A person is a private foster carer whether or not they are paid to care for the child. There are exceptions - Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 3 of 10

4 A child who is looked after by a local authority is not a private foster child. A child who lives in the same premises as their parent(s) or other person who holds parental responsibility for them is not a private foster child. A child who lives in the same premises as any relative who has assumed responsibility for their care is not a private foster child. A child who is living in A children's home; Accommodation provided by or on behalf of a voluntary organisation; A health service hospital; A nursing home or mental nursing home; A residential care home; or Any other kind of home or institution provided equipped and maintained by the Secretary of State, Is not a private foster child unless the person caring for them is doing so in a personal capacity and not as part of their duties to the establishment. A child is not a privately fostered child while they are in the care of any person in compliance with a Supervision Order. A child who is detained, or subject to guardianship, under the Mental Health Act 1983, is not a privately fostered child. A child who is placed for adoption by an adoption agency, or who is living with anyone who has given notice of intention to adopt them is not a private foster child. A child who is living in a school in which they are receiving full time education is not a private foster child unless the person caring for them is doing so in a personal capacity and not as part of their duties to the school. A child who was brought into the UK by a British resident who has given notice to the local authority of their intention to adopt the child is not a private foster child. In this case the situation will be supervised under adoption law. [Children Act 1989 Schedule 8, Para 1 15] If a person fosters more than three children at the same time and they are not a single sibling group, this arrangement will be treated as a children's home unless the local authority has issued a notice of exemption. In Birmingham notices of exemption are issued by the Area Manager. [Children Act 1989 Schedule 7, Para 2 5] There are clear similarities between private fostering and childminding. The main differences between them are the age range of the children concerned and the length of time each child is cared for. Childminding relates to children under the age of 8 years, private fostering to children under the age of 16 years (18 if the child is disabled). Childminding normally takes place for periods of a few hours. Arrangements can be made for children to stay with a childminder overnight, or even for several days and nights, but as soon as the intention is formed that the arrangement will last for 28 days or more, it becomes private fostering. Private fostering is clearly different from local authority fostering. The local authority does not approve private foster carers, nor arrange specific placements. It has a duty to advise the foster carers, but it can take action to Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 4 of 10

5 prevent or to end a fostering arrangement only if the making or continuation of the arrangement would be harmful to the child's welfare. Responsibility for the financial support of the fostering arrangement lies with the parents, and the local authority can only assist if the foster child is a child in need. Private fostering is not the same as fostering for a voluntary organisation or for an independent fostering agency. The arrangement is made directly between the parents and the foster carers. A third party, such as a school, may have put the parents and carers in touch with each other, but it does not approve the placement as a foster home. Private fostering in a school A child who lives at a school during the school holidays may become a private foster child for the part of the school holidays during which they are living there. This will only apply if: The child is under 16 years old, and The school is not maintained by a local education authority, and The child lives at the school for more than two weeks during a school holiday, and The child does not have a parent or other person holding parental responsibility for them also living at the school, and The child does not have a relative who has assumed care of them also living at the school. [Children Act 1989 Schedule 8 Para 9] Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 5 of 10

6 IS THIS A PRIVATELY FOSTERED CHILD? Child Aged under 16 or disabled? Is the child living in the same premises as a parent, a person who holds parental responsibility for him/her or a relative who has assumed responsibility for her/his care? Is the child being cared for by a parent, a person who holds parental responsibility for him/her or a relative? Has the arrangement continued for more than 28 consecutive days? Is the arrangement intended to continue for more than 28 consecutive days? Is the child being looked after by a local authority? Is the child - Living in a children s home? Accommodated by a voluntary organisation? Living in a hospital? Living in a residential care home? Or Living in a nursing home or mental nursing home? Is the person caring for the child doing so as part of their duties to the establishment? Is the child living with a person under the terms of a Supervision Order? Is the child detained or subject to guardianship under the Mental Health Act? Is the child living in a school? Is the school maintained by the Local Education Authority? THE CHILD IS PRIVATELY FOSTERED Is the child placed for adoption by an adoption agency? Or have the current carers given notice of their intention to adopt him/her? The child is privately fostered during the school holidays. Is the person caring for the child doing so as part of their duties to the school? THE CHILD IS NOT PRIVATELY FOSTERED Does the child live at school for more than 2 weeks during the school holidays? Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 6 of 10

7 4. The Private Fostering Lead Officer The Directorate is required to appoint an officer to monitor the way in which it discharges its functions in respect of private fostering in the city. Birmingham City Council s private fostering lead officer is Helen French Area Manager ( ) The private fostering lead officer will: Ensure that Child Care Procedures in relation to private fostering are in place. Ensure that a sample of files is regularly reviewed to ensure compliance with these procedures. Ensure training is facilitated where appropriate to Team Managers and front line workers. Ensure that a review is undertaken of the publicity materials and their distribution. Provide an annual report to the Service Director. Provide an annual report to Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board including multi agency engagement. 5. Duty to publicise The Directorate has a legal duty to promote public awareness of the requirements to give notice of private fostering arrangements. The Lead Officer has set up an arrangement for Area Champions and Community Champions to ensure these duties are carried out. 6. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of privately fostered children In order to safeguard and promote the welfare of privately fostered children, there are a number of checks in place: The lead officer for private fostering is an Area Manager Children s Services Assessments and checklists on the suitability of the private fostering arrangements are conducted by suitably qualified and experienced social workers. Social workers have been equipped with tools to assess the suitability of arrangements. Team managers sign off the assessments. Area Managers sign off any exemptions. Visits are conducted as per the National Minimum Standards with an expectation that children are seen alone. A register of all privately fostered children is maintained. Files have been sampled and reviewed to ensure the outcomes of children are being met. Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 7 of 10

8 Reports are sent to the Service Director and Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board. Suitability of Carers The social worker is required to undertake a number of checks in order to be satisfied about the suitability of the carer and the arrangements. This includes a detailed report of: Whether the intended duration of placement is understood by all; How decisions about child care and medical treatment will be determined; Accommodation; Child s wishes and feelings; How the child s religious and cultural needs will be met; How the child s health needs will be met; Arrangements for education; Capacity of the foster carer to meet their needs; Suitability of all members off the household; Financial arrangements for placement have been resolved; How the placement will end. [Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 Reg. 4] The above will form the basis of a report which will be submitted to the line manager for ratification. The social worker should locate and examine any Directorate records relating to the private foster carer and all members of the household. If any member of the household has moved into Birmingham recently, the worker should contact the local authority responsible for the area in which they used to live and ask whether they hold any records relevant to the question of the person s suitability to care for children or to live in the same household as a child. The Disqualification from Caring for Children Regulations 2002 applies to private fostering. The social worker should check whether the foster carer, or any other member of the household, is likely to be a disqualified person under these regulations. The social worker must ask for permission to carry out an enhanced level Criminal Records Bureau check on the private foster carer and every member of the household aged 16 or more. If any person who regularly visits or stays in the household is likely to have significant contact with the child, and particularly if they are likely to be involved in the care of the child, they should also be asked to agree to a CRB check. The worker should point out that these enquiries are exempt under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, and that all convictions will be considered, but that not all offences will be seen as relevant. If any member of the private foster carer s household refuses permission for a CRB check, the social worker will look at all the information available and consider whether the Directorate can meet its duty to satisfy itself that the Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 8 of 10

9 child s welfare is satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted. If it is not possible to meet this duty, the worker should consider: Whether it may be appropriate to advise the child s parents that there is a problem with the assessment; What further information might be obtained and how; and Whether the Directorate should impose requirements. te that the Directorate cannot impose a requirement for any person to comply with a CRB check, but it may be possible to achieve the same result by requiring that the child will not be left alone with any adult who has not been checked. If any offences appear on a criminal records check, the social worker will discuss the implications with the team manager. The Directorate s procedure on criminal record checks in fostering and adoption will provide guidance on responding to specific offences. This should be undertaken in consultation with the Area Manager An enhanced CRB check will also disclose whether any person is barred from working with children.if any member of household is barred the private fostering must cease. Consulting with Children and Young People In undertaking the visits to the child/young person prior and subsequent to placement the child according to their age and understanding must be seen alone. If the child is not seen alone this must be recorded. If the child s preferred language is not English an interpreter must be used who is independent of both the parent and the carer. The child/young person must be given the leaflet regarding their rights with contact details where the named worker may be contacted. If the worker changes the child/young person must be notified. The child s view on the placement, whether they feel they belong, how they fit in the family and arrangements for contact with their birth family must be sought. The social worker should consider the child s views in the light of their age and understanding. If they differ significantly from the views of the parents or of the private foster carer, the situation may need to be handled with great sensitivity and the worker should focus their enquiry on what the child disagrees with - is it being privately fostered in general, or is it the specific carer or the specific accommodation? There is no legal obligation for parents or private foster carers to take the views of children into account, and they may have strong reasons why they do not feel it appropriate to involve the child in particular decisions. If there is any question about the child s identity, nationality or leave to remain in the UK, the social worker should ask to see their passport. If the child has Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 9 of 10

10 limited leave to remain, the date on which this expires will be stamped on the passport. 7 Advising the carer The private foster carer must be informed of their legal duties and provided with information and guidance on how to meet this. The private foster carer will be sign posted to the appropriate training and support within their locality in order for them to meet the needs of the child, e.g. the local children centre for parenting support. On some occasions the child may be deemed as a child in need, where this occurs the social worker will open an initial assessment and proceed as per safeguarding procedures to meet their needs. Prospective or private foster carers are able to make a complaint about the service they receive to Customer Relations. The service provides mediation, problem solving, independent investigation and advocacy services. The customer Relations Manager may be contacted at option 2, or in writing to: Customer Relations Service Council House Extension Margaret Street B3 3BU Children Young People & Families May 2013 Page 10 of 10

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