What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a child is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative for 28 days or more. This applies when the child is under the age of 16 (or 18 if they have a disability).

For this purpose, a 'close relative' is defined as a:

  • Grandparent.
  • Brother or sister.
  • Uncle or aunt.
  • Step-parent by marriage or civil partnership.

If a child is living with a close relative, they are not privately fostered.

Telling us about private fostering

Children’s social care services must be made aware of any private fostering arrangements as soon as possible. You can contact us at (01226) 772423 and ask to speak to the private fostering social worker.

If you are unsure of whether an arrangement would be classed as private fostering, please contact our team for advice. 

Information for parents

A private fostering arrangement does not mean that your child is in care. Its just our children’s social care team is legally responsible for the welfare of all privately fostered young people.

We'll make sure that the person or people caring for your child get the help and support that they need. We'll also check that the placement is suitable.

A children’s social worker will visit your child and their private foster carer. This will be at a minimum of every six weeks until the private fostering arrangement stops. The private foster carer will also complete a private fostering assessment and you'll be spoken to as part of this process.

Your responsibilities as a parent or carer of a privately fostered child:

  • When a child lives in a private fostering arrangement, you don't lose any legal rights and responsibilities you have for your child.
  • You're responsible for letting children’s social care services know about plans for your child.
  • You'll be part of any decisions made about your child.
  • You're expected to continue to financially support your child.
  • You should be asked for your views about important things like school and health matters.
  • You'll be involved in any decisions made about your child.

You can end a private fostering arrangement at any point.

Information for private foster carers

As a private foster carer, you'll be responsible for the young person’s health, education, social, physical and emotional needs.

A social worker will visit you, the parents and the child to discuss the plans for the young person. They'll then complete a private fostering assessment.

As part of this assessment, a social worker will ask everyone over 18 in your household to sign forms so that checks can be carried out. You'll be asked to make a written agreement with the parents. This will include any special arrangements, like:

  • Managing the young person’s health.
  • Education needs.
  • Financial support.
  • Contact with the family.

This is so everyone is clear about expectations and responsibilities.

A private fostering social worker will visit you every six weeks. They'll speak with the child at each visit and will have regular contact with the parents to make sure everyone is happy with the plan. Meetings with the parents and professionals will also be arranged to make sure the child is doing well.

Information for professionals

Although its a private arrangement there are certain duties and responsibilities under the Children Act 1989 and 2004. This is to make sure that children who are privately fostered are protected.

Professionals also have a statutory duty in relation to private fostering. If you've become aware of a possible private fostering arrangement, you must inform our children’s social care team.

As part of your professional duty, you'll also be asked to:

  • Contribute to the assessment of the arrangement by providing relevant information about the child or carer when requested.
  • Monitor the child’s welfare and progress and provide support and guidance to the child’s carer in line with your agency’s remit.
  • Be involved in ongoing liaison with our children’s social care team to address any welfare concerns or unmet needs.


Statement of purpose

Our private fostering statement of purpose sets out:

  • our duties and functions in relation to private fostering
  • the ways in which these will be carried out

Read our private fostering statement of purpose.