Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (18 if they are disabled) lives with someone who is not a close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility for 28 days or more. Private fostering is not the same as fostering arranged by the local authority.

Children and young people become privately fostered for a variety of reasons

  • their parents live overseas and they come to this country to attend school
  • their parents are ill and cannot look after them
  • their parents work away from home, possibly abroad
  • their parents have come to the UK to study or work and require someone to look after their children
  • they are teenagers who are estranged from their families

The law says that we must be told about all private fostering arrangements. The child’s parents or carers should notify us of the arrangement, although anyone else involved in making the arrangement or who is aware of it also has a responsibility to inform us.

The Children Act 1989, and section 44 of the Children Act 2004, outlines the legal duty of the local authority to make sure that the welfare of all privately fostered children is safeguarded and promoted.