Private fostering

What is private fostering?

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.

What you must do

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.

The benefits of telling the council

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.

How to notify us

Contact First Response by telephone

Private fostering - contact us by short email form

Send a full notification form (msword, 166 KB) (opens new window)

Information for parents

We can offer you support and advice if your child is being cared for by someone who is not a close family member.

Information for private foster carers

We can offer you support and advice if you are caring for someone else's child.

Information for young people

Are you living with another family? Are you being privately fostered?
It is our job to make sure that you are being cared for properly and that you get any help you need for your health, education and happiness.
There is some information for you in the leaflets below.
If you need help or want to talk to someone, or are worried about what is happening to you or someone you know, please ring one of the numbers which can be found by going to the child protection page, or you can email

Private fostering flyers

You can download publicity flyers in a variety of languages below.