Private fostering happens when a child is being looked after by someone other than a close relative for 28 days or more. This applies to any child up to the age of 16 years, or 18 years if the young person is disabled.

If a child is being looked after by someone who is not a close relative, regardless of how the arrangement came about, how good this is for the child or how informal it is, it is private fostering.

You have a legal duty to let us know.

We can provide advice and guidance needed to support both the child and the person caring for them.

Who is considered a close relative?

Close relatives are a child’s grandparents, parents, older brothers or sisters, blood-related aunts and uncles, or any carer with a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order (granted by UK courts).

A child’s cousins, great aunts and uncles, as well as parents’ ex-partners, family friends and neighbours are not close relatives, even though they may have a close relationship with the child.

What happens when a notification is made?

A private fostering officer will arrange to visit the private foster carer, child and parent within seven working days.

Once a private fostering arrangement is confirmed, the private fostering officer will visit and provide advice and support as necessary for the child, parents and private foster carer.

The support offered includes

  • assistance for carers in applying for services
  • mediation between parents and carers if necessary
  • ensuring that relevant financial support (for example child benefit) is received by the carers

We also work with the child to see how they feel about the situation, check they are being well cared for and going to school.

We will complete a report and visit the child at least once every six weeks during the first year and every 12 weeks after that. This will allow us to find out the best way to provide tailored support.

What if I think someone is being privately fostered?

If you think you know someone who is privately fostering a child, you can share this information with them or contact us directly. We can provide more advice about private fostering and the support on offer.

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