Looking after a child who is not your own - Private Fostering information for Carers

Are you looking after a child who is not your own?  You may be privately fostering without being aware you are doing so and action may need to be taken.

What is Private Fostering?

Private fostering is when a child under 16 (or under 18, if disabled) lives with someone who is not a close relative for more than 28 days.

Who are close relatives?

Close relatives include the child’s parents, step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and uncles and aunts, whether by blood or marriage. 

What is meant by NOT a close relative?

If you are a cousin, great aunt, great uncle, a friend of the family or if you are a host family to overseas students then you are NOT a close relative to the child.

A private foster carer may be a friend of the family, the parent of a friend of the child or someone unknown to the child’s family.

Private fostering may take place, for example, when:

  • children are sent to the UK from abroad for schooling or healthcare
  • young children are taken in by a friend’s family, following separation, divorce or arguments at home
  • a teenager lives with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend

Private foster carers are legally required to notify their local authority. If you intend to foster privately for more than 28 days, you must notify us a minimum of six weeks before the child is due to join you, or immediately if a child arrives suddenly.

A member of our team will visit you and the child and carry out checks to ensure the child is safe and that you are able to provide a reasonable standard of care. It is also very important to have a formal agreement in place with the child’s parents, including information about their medical, educational, religious and cultural needs.

Who to contact

To tell us about a private fostering arrangement, please call the Child Protection and Assessment Team (CPAT):

Page last reviewed: 15/06/2023

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