Language schools have a key role locally in caring for children and young people at times. They also can access LSCB training and guidance.
The Children Act 2004 has recently been amended. It says that Private Fostering is when a child or young person aged under 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled), is cared for and provided with accommodation for more than 28 days continuously (continuity is not broken by the occasional short break) by an adult who is not a close relative. A close relative is a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent, but a relative is not, for example, a cousin, great aunt/uncle or a family friend.
Private fostering is different from public fostering as the arrangement is normally organised between the parent and carer, that is to say it has been made without the involvement of a Local Authority.
Privately fostered children are a diverse and sometimes vulnerable group; many young people come to the Britain from overseas to attend a language school. These young people may stay in residential accommodation provided by the language school or with a host family. The language school normally directly recruits the host family. The host family receives payment for providing accommodation, food and sometimes activities and entertainment for the young person.
A young person under 16 years (18 years if disabled) who stay with a host family for more than 28 days is deemed to be privately fostered by that host family.
Language schools are legally required to notify the Local Authority via the SPA above, of any children who are placed with a host family for longer than 28 days as they are directly involved in arranging the placement. As such the language school is acting as the parent.
If you have concerns about a child or young person in Kingston or Richmond or need to notify the Local Authority re a Private Fostering arrangement, please contact the SPA (Single Point of Access):
Kingston and Richmond 0208 547 5008 (working days 8am-6pm)
Out of Hours 0208 770 500.
The parent of the child should be involved with the arrangements and remain responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of their child.
Teachers, health and other professionals should notify the SPA of a private fostering arrangement that comes to their attention, where they are not satisfied that the local authority has been or will be notified of the arrangement. A host family who are deemed to be private foster carers will be provided with any necessary help and advice to assist them to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.
Appropriate arrangements for the child’s medical, dental care and treatment should be made and agreed by the parents, the private foster carers and the child (according to their age and understanding).
The child must be included on a GP’s list. This is generally the responsibility of the language school who should have obtained written permission from the parents for medical treatment.
The host family should be informed about the arrangements for the child’s medical care and have an emergency number to contact the school out of school hours.
Where appropriate the private foster carer should be given information about the child’s needs in relation to his cultural, racial, linguistic and religious needs. In some circumstances an interpreter may be required.
The parent or the private foster carer or the language school must notify the local authority about changes of address, household composition or the knowledge of any offence within the host family.
The Local Authority or SPA must satisfy itself about the suitability of arrangements, carers and premises.
A language school should inform the local authority if it has any concerns about a private fostering arrangement with a host family. In such instances, the local authority may have to use its statutory powers under the Children Act 1989 to assess and ensure that the child is being safely cared for. There may be occasions where the child should not continue to be looked after by their private foster carers and if neither the parents nor the language school can make alternative appropriate arrangements for the child the local authority may need to place the child in suitable accommodation.
The Private Fostering Arrangements require the local authority to satisfy itself of the suitability of any private fostering arrangements within its area, or to exercise its powers by prohibiting the arrangement, or imposing requirements on the arrangement before the child is placed – if sufficient notice is given.
The Local Authority can prevent the placement if the person is disqualified under the terms of the Children Act 1989 or falls within the prohibitions of the Act (Part 1X, ‘Private Fostering’ Sections 68 & 69).
A disqualified person can appeal against a decision to refuse consent for them to privately foster children.