What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a child or young person under 16 years old (or under 18 if disabled) goes to live with someone for 28 days or more by private arrangement (without the involvement of a local authority) with someone who is not a:

  • parent
  • close relative (brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent or step-parent)
  • guardian or a person with parental responsibility.

Private foster carers might be:

  • friends of the child’s family
  • someone willing to care for the child of a family they don’t know
  • relatives not mentioned in the list above, such as a cousin or great aunt.

What to do if you’re unsure

If your child is being privately fostered, or you are a private foster carer the law says you must tell us about it. Please don’t worry if you have been privately fostering for some time, but were unaware of your duty to let us know. We will not take legal action against those who have acted in good faith. If you are in any doubt, ask us for advice.

Examples of private foster care arrangements

Private foster care arrangements can include:

  • children sent to this country for education or health care by parents or guardians living overseas
  • teenagers living with a friend’s family as a result of problems at home
  • children on holiday exchanges
  • children whose parents’ study or work involves unsociable hours, which make it difficult for them to use ordinary day care or after school care.

Why we need to know

What happens when you contact us?

When you contact us we will ask for further details and arrange for a social worker to visit. A social worker will visit the carer and talk to them about how well they will be able to look after the child. They will ask the carer to fill out a consent form so we can make legal checks with other agencies such as the Disclosure and Barring Service.

The social worker will talk to the child about their wishes and feelings if they are old enough. A social worker will visit regularly during the time of the arrangement to make sure everything is fine.

We have the right to stop a person from private fostering if they, or their home, are not suitable. If we think something is not satisfactory we can insist that the carer sorts out the problem, for example by fitting fire guards or smoke alarms.

Responsibilities of the parent and foster carer

  • Parents and carers are both responsible for informing us about their private foster care plans for a child.
  • Parents remain legally responsible for their children and must make adequate financial arrangements for them. They must be consulted about important things like school and health matters.
  • Carers must keep a child safe and well, make sure they go to school and carry out any duties agreed with the parents. They must allow a social worker to visit the child and their home.
  • Children’s services are responsible for checking arrangements to make sure children are well looked after.
  • Everyone who works with children and families, for example teachers and children’s health workers, has a duty to let us know about any private fostering arrangements they are aware of.

Interested in becoming a foster carer?

Contact us

You can contact us on 01926 414144 or email [email protected]