Private fostering

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (or under 18 if disabled) has a carer that is not a parent or ‘close relative’. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more.

We define a close relative as any adult, whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity, such as:

  • step-parents
  • grandparents
  • brothers and sisters
  • uncles or aunts

A parent may enter into a private fostering arrangement for a number of reasons: 

  • the child has been sent to this country for education or health care by their birth parents from overseas
  • the child is living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home
  • a teenager is living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • a parent’s hours of work or study makes it difficult for them to look after their child

It is the parent’s responsibility to make sure the carer is suitable. We make sure the children are well cared for by making regular visits. The parents still have parental responsibility for their child and should be involved in decisions concerning their development.

Notifying the local authority

Parents and foster carers are required by law to inform us of any private fostering arrangements.

You should tell us at least six weeks before the arrangement begins, unless it is in an emergency, then we should be notified within 48 hours.

The local authority must check that private foster carers are suitable people to do the job. With their permission, we will carry out checks with people like the police and their GPs. We will also check that the accommodation is safe and suitable.

If you are a professional in education, health, or social care, and you come across a private fostering arrangement, please notify us.