A legal definition of a privately fostered child
In the definition provided by The Children Act 1989, Children Act 2004 and the Private Fostering Arrangements 2005, a privately fostered child is:
- "A child, under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) who is cared for, or proposed to be cared for, and provided with accommodation by someone other than"
- "A parent of his/hers"
- "A person who is not a parent of his/hers but who has Parental Responsibility for him/her"
- "A sibling"
- "A close relative of his or hers, for example, aunt, uncle, stepparent or grandparent. For the purpose of the Act, the term "parent" includes unmarried or putative father. "A close relative" as described above, can be by full or half-blood or by affinity or step-parent. A cousin, great aunt/uncle or a family friend are not considered close relatives.
For 28 days or more, or if:
- "The period of actual fostering is less than 28 days it is not a private fostering arrangement but if the private foster carer intends to foster him/her for a period of 28 days or more" it is then classed as a private fostering arrangement"
- "In cases where a child has a "disability", the upper age limit to be classed as private fostering arrangements is 18 years".
It is not essential that the arrangement to privately foster a child be for a continuous period of 28 days and 24 hour care. A break in the period, for example, the child to visit his/her parents at the weekend, would not affect the nature of the placement as a private foster arrangement/placement. For a break to cause a restart in calculating the period, it must result from the ending of one arrangement prior to the start of a new arrangement.
- "A person may act as a child minder for children under eight years old, that is, looking after one or more children on domestic premises for reward. If the intention is that such an arrangement will last continuously for more than 27 days, the placement becomes a private fostering arrangement on or after 28 days"
For the purpose of the Act, the term "parent" includes unmarried or putative father. Relative means as stated above, whether by full or half-blood or by affinity or stepparent. Affinity refers to the relationship resulting from marriage, between the husband and the blood relations of the wife and also between the wife and the blood relations of the husband.
An arrangement is deemed as private fostering if it meets the criteria above whether for reward (monetary) or not.