People living with a child who is not their own nor related to them are being urged to register as foster parents.
Northamptonshire County Council says, by law, the arrangements need to be logged so that the needs of the child, the parents and the guardians are being met.
Private fostering is when a child or young person up to the age of 16 (18 if they have a disability) is living with someone other than a close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility for more than 28 days.
Private foster carers can be a friend of the child’s family, or someone willing to care for the child of a family they do not know. This could include:
* Children and young people living with friends due to family difficulties
* Children sent from abroad to study in the UK
* Children with parents who are in hospital, prison or overseas
* Asylum-seeking and refugee children
* Children on holiday exchanges.
The council says that those providing private fostering could be entitled to benefits and support they may not currently be receiving.
The county council has a duty to ensure the child’s needs are being met and can also arrange professional support and advice for the guardians and the child’s parents.
County council deputy leader and cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Matthew Golby, said: “There are occasions when someone other than a parent or close relative may look after a child, for example a family friend who offers to help when a parent is going through a difficult time, or a student from overseas who comes to stay with a family friend or a distant relative.
“Most people won’t even recognise this as a private fostering arrangement, but by law we need to know about it so that we can make sure the needs of the child, the parents and the guardians are being fully met," he added.
“That’s why we’re encouraging anyone who is involved in a private fostering arrangement, or knows someone who is, to get in touch.”
To register a private fostering arrangement, people can call 0300 126 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about private fostering, visit www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/privatefostering.