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Private Fostering

Private Fostering Awareness - Do you know someone who looks after someone else’s child?


Private Foster Care

Children who are cared for on a full-time basis by people who are not their parents or a relative may be in private foster care. Private foster carers may be from the extended family such as a cousin or great aunt. However, a person who is a relative under the Children Act 1989 i.e. a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of full blood or half blood or by marriage) or step-parent will not be a private foster carer.


Private foster care occurs when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is cared for, and provided with accommodation, by an adult who is not a relative, for 28 days or more, by private arrangement between parent and carer. A private foster carer may be a friend of the family, the parent of a friend of the child, or someone previously unknown to the child’s family who is willing to privately foster a child.


The local council has a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of privately fostered children. Private fostering situations could involve:

  • children sent to this country for education or health care by birth parents living overseas.
  • children living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home.
  • teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • children whose parents’ study or work involves unsociable hours, which make it difficult for them to use ordinary day care or after school care.



Where a child is to be placed with private foster carers, the local authority must be notified in writing at least 6 weeks before an arrangement begins. Where no prior notification of a placement is given, private foster carers must notify the local authority of the placement immediately. The local authority has legal duties towards privately fostered children/young people and must satisfy itself that the welfare of children who are, or will be, privately fostered within their area are satisfactorily safeguarded. 


Teachers, health and other practitioners should notify Children's Social Care of any private fostering arrangements that come to their attention; unless they are satisfied that Children's Social Care have already been notified of the arrangement.


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