Private fostering

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

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

What is private fostering?

A private fostering arrangement is one that is made privately by a parent/guardian (without the involvement of the local authority) for their child to live with someone who is not a close relative for a period of 28 days or more. It only applies to children under the age of 16 years, or under 18 if the young person is disabled.

It is different to fostering formally organised by the council through approved foster carers. 

Close relatives include legal step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts.

So, private foster carers may be distant relatives, friends of the family – including adult partners where the parent is absent or an adult previously unknown to the child.   

Private fostering arrangements are made for a variety of reasons including children:

  • who have parents living or working abroad
  • living with a friend's family as a result of parental separation/divorce or problems at home.
  • being cared for while their parent/s are in hospital or in prison
  • sent to the UK to study, attend language schools or for extended cultural exchange trips
  • under 16 years at boarding schools who spend more than two weeks in residence at school during holiday time.