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What is private fostering?

Private fostering means a private arrangement is made for a child under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is disabled) to stay with someone who is not a close relative.

The Children's Act 1989 says a close family member is:

  • a parent
  • adult sibling
  • grandparent
  • aunt
  • uncle
  • step-parent.

A private fostering arrangement would be with someone who was not in those categories.

The private fostering period must be for more than 28 days.

Why private fostering?

You may consider private fostering if you want to send your child to be looked after by friends if, for example:

  • you live abroad and you want your child to go to school, or see a doctor here
  • you need a break because you and your child are having trouble getting on 
  • you have to work or study away for over 28 days.

Let us know

Although private fostering is very different from the care of children provided by local authorities through approved foster carers, our Children's Services team still needs to be informed.

This is because private fostering arrangements can put children at risk unless the placement is monitored. 

Let us know what's happening so we can keep an eye on your children and make sure they are being looked after properly.

It is a criminal offence not to inform the local authority about private fostering arrangements.

What we do

Local authorities have a legal duty to safeguard all children from harm and neglect.

With private fostering arrangements, we will check the suitability of private foster carers, as well as the household and accommodation for the child.

We make regular visits to the child, and make sure that advice is available, and that the child is receiving a good overall standard of care.

We also make sure that arrangements between the carer and parents are in place to protect the child.