Private fostering

Private fostering occurs when a parent (or someone with parental responsibility) makes an arrangement for their child or children to be cared for by someone else. The person looking after their child or children is known as the private foster carer.

A private fostering arrangement occurs when:

  • a child (someone younger than 16 years or 18 years in the case of a child with disabilities) is planned to be cared for, or has already been cared for, by someone else for 28 consecutive days or more
  • the person who will care for them is not a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, step-parent or an approved foster carer

Private fostering is not the same as fostering. Private foster carers are people who have agreed directly with the parents (or people with parental responsibility) to look after a child.

The council is not involved in making the arrangements and the child or children are still the responsibility of their parents.

Why children are privately fostered

Children and young people may have to live with other families for many different reasons:

  • a child could be living with a friend’s family because of separation, divorce or arguments at home
  • a teenager could be living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend, or with a school friend’s family
  • a parent has a long-term illness and cannot look after their child
  • children have been sent to the UK by parents living overseas for education or health care reasons
  • childcare arrangements would be difficult for parents who work away from home or who work unsociable hours

What the council needs to know

Parents and private foster carers have a responsibility to tell their local council about these arrangements as soon as possible and ideally at least 6 weeks before the arrangement is due to start.

This is so we can support everyone involved and make regular checks to make sure children are safe and happy. Our aim is to help children and their parents and carers have a positive experience of private fostering, not to intrude in arrangements which are working well.

You need to get in touch with the Children’s Duty Team if you:

  • are thinking about placing your child or children with friends or another family as a private fostering arrangement
  • have already placed your child or children with friends or another family as a private fostering arrangement
  • have found out that a child or children you know are living in a private fostering arrangement or are planning to live in a private fostering arrangement
  • are looking after someone else’s child or children and you are not a close relative

If you did not realise this until now, then do not worry – just let us know now.

If you would like to talk to us about a child who is being privately fostered, call the Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01344 352005.

Contact information


01344 352005

Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm.

Outside of these times and on bank holidays, contact the Emergency Duty Service about safeguarding concerns that cannot wait until the next working day.

Send an email