Private fostering: when someone else is looking after your child

Private fostering: when someone else is looking after your child

What you need to do if your child is in private foster care, or if you’re planning to put your child in private foster care.

Tell us about private fostering arrangements

If your child is being privately fostered or you’re planning to put them in private foster care, it’s against the law not to tell us.

How to tell us and what happens next.

Private fostering is when someone who isn’t a close family member looks after your child for more than 28 days.

You might need to ask someone else you know to look after your child. For example, if:

  • you need to stay in hospital for a while
  • you’re going to live abroad
  • you’re not getting on well with your child

You’ll need to be clear about how long the private fostering arrangement will last. It’s rarely in the child’s best interest to stay away from their family for more than a short period of time.

You can ask your social worker for help to write an agreement with the carer. This will help protect your child and make sure that you and the carer are clear about specific needs your child may have such as:

  • who is responsible for getting your child’s hair cut
  • school attendance
  • what contact they have with you during the private fostering arrangement

What you need to tell the carer

You need to give the private foster carer as much written information as possible about your child. This should include:

  • family routine, as a guide to help them care for your child
  • language
  • culture
  • eating preferences
  • school
  • hobbies and interests

You also need to:

  • make sure the carer knows how to contact you
  • give the carer written permission to let them get medical treatment for your child, signed in front of your social worker
  • speak to the carer to decide who will cover the costs of looking after your child

Your responsibilities while your child is in care

While your child is in private foster care, you still have parental responsibility. This means you should be involved in important decisions like:

  • medical treatment at a hospital
  • changing schools
  • if the private foster carer moves home with your child

You’ll still be responsible for financial support, including maintenance payments if these apply.