Private fostering

Private foster

A private fostering arrangement is essentially one that is made privately (without the involvement of a local authority) for the care of a child or young person under 16 (or under 18 if they have a disability) by someone other than a parent or close relative with the intention that it should last for 28 days or more.

A person who is a relative under the Children Act 1989, i.e. a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether by full blood or half blood or by marriage) or step-parent will not be a private foster carer. However, you may be a private foster carer if you are a part of the child’s extended family such as a cousin or great aunt or uncle.

The private foster carer becomes responsible for providing the day to day care of the child in a way that will promote and safeguard his/her welfare. Overarching responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the privately fostered child remains with the parent or other person with parental responsibility.

Some of the most common reasons why children may be privately fostered are:

  • a child’s parents are overseas
  • a young person is living with the family of their boyfriend/girlfriend
  • a child lives with their best friend’s parents because they have had an argument with their own parents
  • a child’s parent is unwell.

You can watch a short video called Somebody Else’s Child about private fostering on YouTube.

If you are looking after somebody else’s child, know someone who is, or your child is being cared for by someone else who is not a close relative, you must notify the Local Authority. If you are planning for someone else to care for your child you must tell us at least six weeks before your child goes to live with the private foster carers. The local authority has a duty to safeguard the well-being of privately fostered children and to ensure they are:

  • safe and well looked after
  • healthy
  • receiving a proper education
  • being encouraged to reach their full potential
  • keeping in touch with people who are important to them
  • living with someone who helps them value their culture and sense of identity
  • properly supported when they become independent.

If a child is already living in a private fostering arrangement please notify the local authority straight away on 01952 385385 as it is an offence not to notify Children's Services.

Many private fostering arrangements remain hidden, leaving children vulnerable to abuse and neglect. This was highlighted by the tragic death of a privately fostered child, Victoria Climbie.

If you would like more advice, contact our Family Connect service on 01952 385385 for more details.

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Last updated: 09/06/2021 09:17