Private fostering


​​What is Private Fostering and what you need to know:

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Private fostering is when a child under 16, or up to 18 if disabled, is cared for by someone other than a parent or close relative for 28 days or more. If your child, or a child you are looking after on behalf of someone else, is in this situation you are legally required to tell us by calling Social Care Direct on 0345 8 503 503.

A close relative is a:

  • Grandparent
  • Brother or sister
  • Uncle or aunt
  • Step-parents
  • They could be related by marriage or a full or half-relation, such as a half-brother

Examples of private fostering include:

  • Children sent from abroad to stay with another family
  • Children on a holiday exchange or living with host families while studying
  • Teenagers staying with friends after severing their family ties
  • Children staying with another family due to parental absence such as a period of ill health

By telling us about your circumstances, support and advice can be accessed for both the child and the Private Foster carer. A social worker will be assigned to the child who will make regular visits and be in regular contact.

They will also carry out an assessment of the place your child is living and checks on all relevant people who live there. By monitoring and supervising Private Foster placements, we can help to safeguard children who may be at risk of abuse or neglect.

Making private fostering arrangements and parent’s rights

A private fostering arrangement is made between the parent and carer. The birth parent retains parental and financial responsibility and should be involved in all decisions concerning their child's development and upbringing. If you are making arrangements for a child to be fostered privately, or are caring for a child, you must:

  • Let us know at least six weeks before
  • Get in touch within 48 hours if the arrangement is made in an emergency
  • Let us know within 48 hours if the child leaves your care and provide the name and address of the person who will be caring for them in the future.

Private Foster Carers

Carers should be given as much information as possible about the child they are looking after, including:

  • Health
  • School records
  • Religious and cultural requirements
  • Eating preferences
  • Hobbies
  • Likes and dislikes

We can offer support to private foster carers, which can take various forms. For further information of support available please get in touch.

Professional’s duties

Professionals in education, health and social care play an important role in identifying private fostering arrangements and getting key messages to carers and parents who might not be aware of their responsibilities and the requirement to notify us.

If you know that a child is being privately fostered, you should:

  • Encourage the parent and/or carer to contact us
  • You should also contact us

For more information please see the Private Fostering leaflet.

Local Council duties

We have a duty to safeguard all children and this includes the regulation of private fostering arrangements to make sure that children are suitably cared for.

We will work together with the child, the parents and private foster carer to ensure that the best possible arrangements are in place for the child, including;

  • Undertaking a full assessment of the Private Fostering arrangement.
  • Listening to what the child wants.
  • Arranging for a social worker to support the child and carer(s).
  • Making regular visits to the child
  • Keeping an eye on the standard of care being offered and offer advice to the private foster carer/s.
  • If we think the arrangement is unsuitable, we will decide what action to take to safeguard the child’s welfare.

If you think you are being privately fostered or you are involved in a private fostering arrangement you should let us know straight away.

Private fostering statement of purpose

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