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Private fostering is when a child under 16 - or under 18 if the child is disabled - lives for 28 days or more with someone who is not a close relative. Close relatives are a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, step-parent or someone with parental responsibility.
Examples of privately fostered children include those who are living with:
a friend's family because of problems at home
a host family for a school term, school year or during a holiday
extended family because of arguments at home or whilst seeking asylum
the unmarried partner of a parent when the parent leaves home
The child may be living with someone they already know or someone not previously known to them or their family. Children are not privately fostered if they are in the care of a local authority or only cared for during the day.
Private fostering video
This video by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) is a short guide to private fostering.
If you see the word 'Advertisement' instead of the video, please reload this page a few times until the video shows.
On the 'Somebody else's child' website you can listen to a podcast called 'Voices of Private Fostering'. It includes the same private foster carers and privately fostered children from the video above talking about their experiences. The transcript of 'Voices of Private Fostering' (pdf, 56 KB)(opens new window) can be used with the video or the podcast.
Parents and carers must let the council know about private fostering, even though it is a private arrangement between them. It's against the law not to. If possible, let us know six weeks before the arrangement starts.
The law also includes any third party involved in making - or finding a child is in - a private fostering arrangement if they believe that the Council has not already been told. This might include, for example, staff at a school, a language school or a host agency.
You can ring us, email, send a short email form or fill out a full notification form - see links in the 'how to notify us' section.
Social workers will visit the child, private foster carer and where possible the parent(s), to make sure the child is safe and the arrangement is in the child's best interests. They will make checks on the private foster carers. Following this assessment, social workers will make regular visits to offer support and advice to parents and the private foster carers to make sure the child's educational, emotional, cultural and physical needs are being met.
This includes information to help private foster carers understand their rights and tasks.
We will give children and young people access to support and information to help them understand what the private fostering arrangement means for them.
We will offer advice and information to parents about setting up and maintaining the private fostering arrangement.