Are you caring for the son or daughter of a friend or family member? You may be breaking the law.
If a person cares for someone else’s child for longer than 28 days, they are classed as a ‘private foster carer’ and are legally required to register with the local authority.
The law sets out that a child is classed as any individual up to the age of 16 years (18 years if the child is disabled). Close relatives (grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts) are not classed as private foster carers.
However cousins and other distantly removed relatives, and families who look after children sent to the UK for education or health care by parents living overseas need to register with the local authority.
Assistant Director of Children and Family services at North East Lincolnshire Council, Megan Dennison, said: “Lots of people look after a friend or family member’s child and simply aren’t aware that they have to let us know.
“We have to ensure that every child in North East Lincolnshire is being looked after properly, and that their needs are being met. By registering with us, we can carry out some quick checks to make sure that the child and the private foster carer are both receiving the proper support.
“If you have found yourself in a situation where you are caring for someone else’s child for a prolonged period, please let us know.”
Councillor Kath Wheatley, portfolio holder for children and young people, said: “There are a lot of really great private foster carers out there, giving a family member or friend a helping hand by looking after their child for an extended period.
“The laws around private foster carers are in place to protect children. I would urge anyone who thinks they may be in this situation to contact the Council.”
If you think you might be a private foster carer, contact the Children’s Assessment and Safeguarding Service (CASS) on 01472 326292 (Option 2).
For more information, visit www.nelincs.gov.uk.