Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 years old (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their birth parent or a "close relative". This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more.

Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full-blood, half-blood or marriage/affinity).

Birth parents and private foster carers are required by law to notify the local authority of the arrangements in place within six weeks of the start of the child joining their private foster carer.

If you know someone in a personal or professional capacity who is privately fostering or is about to, you should encourage them to notify their local authority and if they are not able to do so then you should notify their local authority's children's services.

The local authority will then carry out their legal duty to ensure that the child is safe and well looked after by organising regular visits and offering advice and support when needed.

Support available may include:

  • advice on claiming benefits and possible funding for some essential items
  • parenting support and advice
  • help in bringing families in crisis back together

For more information about private fostering you can visit the Child Law Advice website.

Why not also read our Advice Note Private fostering (England and Wales). There is also a guide written for children Private fostering: what it is and what it means.