Private fostering

Is your child living with someone else? Or are you looking after someone else's child, full-time for more than 28 days?

If so you could be 'private fostering' and you need to let the council know.

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is different from what is usually known as foster care organised by the council. 

It is an arrangement whereby a parent (or guardian) arranges for their child or children to live with someone who is not a close relative such as a step-parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt for 28 days or more.

It only applies to children under the age of 16 years, or 18 if the young person is disabled.

Private fostering arrangements are made for a variety of reasons such as:

  • children or young people who are living with a friend's family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home.
  • young people living with the family of a girlfriend or boyfriend
  • children who have been sent to England for education or medical treatment
  • children being cared for while their parent/s are hospitalised or imprisoned
  • children on holiday exchanges or attending language schools
  • children whose parents work unsocial hours

It is estimated that more than 15,000 children in England and Wales are privately fostered – but many people are unaware that they are involved in a private fostering arrangement, or that the law says they must notify the council.

If you have this type of arrangement you must contact Ealing children's integrated response service' on tel: 020 8825 8000.

More information about private fostering can be found on the Somebody Else's Child website.