If a child under the age of 16, or a disabled child under 18, is living for more than 28 days with an adult who is not their parent or close relative (step parent, grandparent, sister or brother, aunt or uncle), this is called private fostering. A carer could be from extended family, a family friend or someone unknown to the child.
Private fostering is an arrangement between a parent and a carer. This arrangement does not involve the council and the child is not in care.
It is not private fostering if the person is already an approved foster carer.
Private fostering could be:
- children having to live with a family friend after their parents have divorced
- a young person staying with a friend’s family because of arguments at home
- children sent to the UK from abroad for education or healthcare
- looking after children of parents who work anti-social hours
- children on extended holiday exchanges
Staying longer than 14 days in a residential school during holiday time is also considered private fostering.
Why we need to know
Legally a child’s birth parents and the people who will be looking after the child have to tell us that any private fostering is happening.
This should be as soon arrangements are in place for the child to stay at least 28 days – ideally six weeks before fostering begins, or 48 hours in emergency situations.
They also have to tell us when a child moves on, to whom and where.
If you are privately fostering, your child is privately fostered or if you know of a child who is being privately fostered, please let us know by calling our Single Point of Access team on 020 8547 5008. Lines are open from 8.00am to 6.00pm from Monday to Friday.
What we will do
When we are told about a private fostering arrangement, one of our social workers will speak to the child’s parents and visit the foster carer’s home to speak with them and the child.
They will also offer advice and support to the carer if they need it.
If we don’t think the arrangement is suitable we’ll take action to protect the child’s welfare.
Contact our children’s Single Point of Access (SPA) Team. (We're open 8am to 5:15pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 5pm on Fridays)