Information leaflets for overseas families
Are you sending you child to the UK for schooling? If so the following
leaflets will be useful for you to read.
When a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared
for for 28 days or more by someone who is not their parent or a close relative this is called a private
fostering arrangement. It is a private arrangement between a parent and the carer. The local
council is not usually involved but the carer or parent should notify the Council.
Close relatives are defined as grandparents, brother, sister,
uncle or aunt (whether of full blood or half blood or by marriage) or step-parent (a parent’s unmarried
partner is not a step-parent in this context).
The London Borough of Merton has a legal duty to ensure that any
child or young person is safe, well looked after and does not come to any harm in a private fostering
arrangement, by making sure that he/she and their carer are visited regularly and offered advice and
guidance when needed.
What you must do
The law requires you to notify Merton’s Children’s Services within
6 weeks of:
- Your child going to stay with someone who is not a close
relative for 28 days or more, or
- You are going to look after someone else’s child for 28 days or more
you you are a professional who becomes aware of a child in any private fostering situation – whether
proposed or where the placement has begun – you must advise the private fostering carer, the parents
and any other person involved in making the arrangements to contact the office below. You should advise
to them that it is a potential offence not to do so.
How to notify Merton Children’s Social Care
If you are aware of a child who may be in a private fostering
arrangement, or who may potentially be placed in a private fostering arrangement you must contact the
MASH Team on 020 8545 4226 or 020 8545 4227
How can a practitioner or agency recognise private fostering?
Private fostering is an arrangement that is made privately
and does not involve the local authority. For example, parents may arrange for their child to
be cared for by an extended member of their family, a neighbour, friend or even someone unknown to the
child. Many private foster carers and parents are not aware of the notification requirements. As a result,
a significant number of these care arrangements remain hidden. Private fostering can be helpful for
a child but may leave some children vulnerable to abuse or neglect.
There is a legal requirement for private foster carers and parents
to notify the local authority of all private fostering arrangements. It is a potential offence not to
notify the local authority, without reasonable cause.
Private fostering situations can include:
- Children or young people who are sent to this country
for education by their birth parents from overseas
- Teenagers living with a friend’s family because they have fallen out
with their parents
- Children staying with another family because their parent has been hospitalised
- A child from overseas staying with a host family while attending school,
or overseas students at boarding school who stay with a host family over the holidays – for more than
What Merton Children’s Social Care must do
The council has a legal requirement to assess and review all private
fostering arrangements notified to them.
Our overall aim is to ensure that all private foster placements
benefit children and that those who plan to look after them, their parents and the children or young
people themselves are aware of the help and support that they can be provided with. To achieve this
- Check on the suitability of private foster carers.
- Make regular visits to the child.
- Ensure that advice and support is made available when needed.
- Monitor the overall standard of care
Annual report on Private Fostering in Merton 2013/14
Merton Council's Statement of Purpose on Private Fostering
Statement of purpose 2016
Watch this clip on private fostering
If you are worried that a child may be at risk of neglect or abuse
Children, Schools and Families Department
Telephone: 020 8545 4226 or 020
8545 4227 (Out of hours: 020 8770 5000)
Fax: 020 8545 4204
You do not have to give your name and your conversation will be