Am I allowed to ask about a family’s personal arrangements? In your role a health professional it is important to explore family relationships and ask the relevant questions Question: Is informing the local council a breach of patient confidentiality? Notifying local authorities about private fostering arrangements is about identifying and safeguarding vulnerable children. Question: Is there a lot of work involved in notifying? Your main role is to pass the information on to the private fostering social workers.
Question: Will my call to the local authority be treated confidentially? Question: Will the child be removed from the family? Outside of work you should also be aware of private fostering.
Answer: Providing the arrangement is suitable then there is no need for the child to be removed. Safeguarding children is the responsibility of the whole community.
Answer: The parent(s) and/or other person with PR retains PR during a private fostering arrangement.
They are responsible for any decisions about the child although they may wish to delegate certain responsibilities to the private foster carer, for example giving permission for immunisations and routine health care and agreeing to the child going on a school trip.
Even where some powers are delegated, the parent or person with PR retains the final responsibility for the child’s care.
Question: Is parental consent required for a private fostering arrangement?
Answer: Private fostering is a private arrangement made between a parent (or other person with PR) and a private foster carer to look after a child.
In most situations, therefore, parental consent is implicit.
However, there are other situations, for example a young person making their own arrangement with the parents of a friend, an unaccompanied asylum seeker or a trafficked child in a private fostering arrangement where parents have not been involved.
In the case of an unaccompanied asylum seeking child or a trafficked child where it is not possible to contact parents, the duty of the local authority is to ensure that any arrangement for the care of the child safeguards and promotes their welfare.
In some cases this will mean accommodating the child as a ‘looked after’ child or seeking an interim/full care order that will give the local authority parental responsibility. Where this is not given, the social worker will need to consider the age and understanding of the child and their capacity to give their consent to the arrangement.
Where it is in the interests of the child, the social worker should consider ways of reuniting them with their parent(s).
As part of deciding whether a private fostering arrangement is suitable, the social worker will need to consider whether this or an alternative arrangement is the best way to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.