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Carer and young girl

A private foster carer shares her experiences

It can be complex and sometimes unclear as to whether you are in a private fostering arrangement, this is something the council can help with. We speak with a private foster carer to find out more.

If you or anyone you know are looking after a friend or relative’s child, who is under 16 (18 if they are disabled) for 28 days or more, and the arrangement is made privately, without the knowledge of the council’s children’s services, then it could be private fostering. It is not private fostering if the arrangement was made by the local authority, or if a child is looked after by approved foster carers or kinship carers.

It is important to let the council know, to ensure the safety of the child or children but also to find out about the help and support available.

Interview with a private foster carer

People can find themselves in a situation of private fostering, without realising, and the council can help. Here is a recent interview with a carer, who worked with the council, helping to support the carer, the child and the child’s parents.

Cabinet member for a fairer start Councillor Kamaljit Nagpal said: “If you think you might be in a private fostering arrangement, it is important to let the council know, they can assess the situation, and provide you with support and advice to help give the best start in life to the child or children you are looking after.

“The council can provide emotional and financial support if needed, as well as advice on finding a GP, or local school for the child, we also offer training in parenting and support networks, which can really help.”

How did you become a private foster carer?
I’m currently helping a friend of mine, who found herself in a very difficult position, by hosting her 15-year-old daughter at my house. Our agreement was to host her daughter for a short time, however things didn’t go as planned and I became a private foster carer.

What happened when you contacted the council? We contacted Ealing Council Social Services and Memory (the council’s private fostering lead social worker) got in touch. It was lovely meeting her, she’s very kind and bubbly, and perhaps one of her best characteristics is that she knows how to make you comfortable. You can talk to her about anything. She explained what private fostering is and how the council can support you when private fostering.

How did the assessment feel?
At first, I thought that there isn’t any point to being assessed when I was just helping someone I knew, however I have to say it was way less scary than I thought.

What did you find helpful?
It was good to have someone to talk to about the process, times when you had clashes with the young person, help with boundaries and help with contact. Memory is very proactive; she didn’t waste any time booking a visit. She also encouraged my friend’s daughter to visit new places (all funded by the council).

How about practical things like registering with a GP or school?
Registering my friend’s daughter with a GP was very easy, we just had to follow a few easy steps. The same thing goes for the admission to the school; it was very quick and easy.

What would you say to encourage other people who are providing private foster care to come forward?
Not only does private fostering help you provide great care for the child you are taking care of, and they also help with other less tangible aspects that come with the taking care of a child such as emotional support. I was also helped with some financial issues I had.

How to let the council know

If you are reading this article and realise you are in a private fostering arrangement, then it is important not to worry, the council understand these situations can be complex and difficult to identify, simply contact the council, so they can offer you the help and support available.

It is important to remember that if the council does not know that someone is in a private fostering arrangement, then it cannot help. And remember, it is a legal requirement to let the council know.

Here is a short video to find out more about private fostering.

Contact Ealing Council Children’s Services to notify them about the arrangement or to find out if you are private fostering – call Ealing Children’s Integrated Response Service (ECIRS) on 020 8825 8000

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