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Workers and Volunteers

Private Fostering

A private fostering arrangement is one that is made privately (i.e. without the involvement of the local authority) between parent and carer, to provide care and accommodation for a child under the age of 16, or under 18 if disabled, by someone other than a parent or close relative, for 28 days or more.

Private fostering arrangements can involve:
  • children where arrangements are made due to parental illness or working hours
    young people who stay with friends’ families because of family tensions
  • teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • children staying with families whilst attending a school away from their home area
  • children from abroad whose parents do not reside in this country
  • children who are cared for by their parents’ partners while the parent lives elsewhere, e.g. in prison or hospital
  • children staying with host families whilst they have a holiday or medical treatment in this country, or attend boarding or language school
Under the Children Act 1989, private foster carers and those with parental responsibility are required to notify the local authority of their intention to privately foster, or to have a child privately fostered, or where a child is privately fostered in an emergency.
The local authority has a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of privately fostered children, and to ensure that such advice as appears to be required is given to private foster carers.  In order to do so, local authority officers must visit privately fostered children at regular intervals. Children should be given the contact details of the social worker who will be visiting them while they are being privately fostered.

All professionals working with children have an important role in relation to safeguarding privately fostered children.  If they become aware of a private fostering arrangement, and they are not confident that it has been notified to the local authority, they should contact the local authority themselves.

Further information

There is a PowerPoint presentation and a 7 minute brief to assist in briefing staff.

Private Fostering Poster to display. 

Somebody Else's Child is a national private fostering campaign run by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.  The website contains information for foster carers and professionals and advice for those who are aware of a child being privately fostered.  

Anyone who becomes aware of a private fostering arrangement should contact:

The Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) 

Tel: 01793 466903