Private fostering is a private arrangement made between a parent and a responsible adult for the care of a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled). The person who will be looking after the child is not a parent or close relative of the child, and the arrangement is planned to last for at least 28 days. 

Private foster carers may be from the extended family such as a cousin or great aunt. A private foster carer may be a friend of the family, the parent of a friend of the child, or someone previously unknown to the child’s family who is willing to privately foster the child. 

The period for which the child is cared for and accommodated by the private foster carer should be continuous but can include the occasional short break. The local authority in which the private foster carer lives must be notified of the arrangement. 

This section provides members with supplementary materials to develop their knowledge and practice for their work with privately fostered children, their carers and parents. Our range of resources include references, legal notes and material for raising awareness and working with private fostering arrangements. If you have more complex queries you should contact our Member Advice Line.

Tell us about private fostering in your area

The Department for Education stopped collection of any data about private fostering in 2015 and therefore the number of children who are privately fostered is not known. CoramBAAF would like to support a better understanding of this often hidden group of children, by asking our members about private fostering in their local authority.


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Take part in the survey

We know from our discussions with private fostering practitioners that numbers vary around the country. An improved understanding will help local authorities target how they raise awareness in their local communities and across other partner agencies. We would like every local authority to complete the survey! We have intentionally kept our questions simple. We hope they are linked to data that local authorities already gather for their own internal recording and reporting purposes and therefore will not be too onerous.

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What is private fostering?

This 45-minute session provides key information about private fostering – what it is, who are the children, and the respective responsibilities of child care professionals, partner agencies, local authorities, parents and private foster carers in meeting the needs of privately fostered children.

Questions and guidance

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Frequently asked questions

Browse some of the most the common questions related to private fostering, and read our answers.

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Practice guidance

We have collated tips and guidance for professionals working with, and carers of, children in private fostering arrangements.

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Legal guidance

Take a look at our glossary of legal terms, case note examples, and the requirements around notifications to relevant authorities around private fostering arrangements.

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Ideas for raising awareness

Join us in raising awareness about private fostering. We have collected a range of ideas for you to be able to get involved.

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Latest publications

Private fostering: what it is and what it means front cover

Private fostering: what it is and what it means

This short, colourful booklet is part of CoramBAAF’s series of publications for children and young people, which aim to explain concepts in adoption and fostering that they may find difficult to understand.

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Private fostering advice note front cover

Private fostering advice note

This advice note explores private fostering, providing basic, clear facts for all of those who may be involved.

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