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Private fostering

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a child or young person under 16 years old (or 18 if they have a disability) is looked after for 28 days or more by someone who is not a close relative, legal guardian or person with parental responsibility. It is not private fostering if the arrangement was made by social care.

Private foster carers can be a friend of the child's family, or someone who is willing to care for the child of a family they do not know.

What sort of children are privately fostered?

  • Children and young people living apart from their families
  • Ethnic minority children with parents working or studying in the UK
  • Children and young people with parents overseas
  • Children and young people living with other families for a variety of reasons
  • Children and young people on holiday exchanges

Notifying Children's Services - what the law says

Your local Children's Services must be informed about all private fostering situations. The child's parent(s), private fostering carer and anyone else involved in the arrangement are required by law to inform Children's Services.

What should professionals do?

There are a wide range of professionals who come into contact with children such as teachers, doctors and health visitors. Professionals should make sure that Children's Services know about all private fostering arrangements. They should also encourage the child's parent(s) or carer to notify Children's Services.

What will Children's Services do?

Children's services will work in partnership with the child, parents and private foster carer to ensure that the best possible arrangements are in place for the child. This includes:

  • Visiting the child and private foster carer
  • Helping to ensure the child's racial, cultural, linguistic and religious needs are being met
  • Offering advice and support to the child, their parent(s) and private foster carer

Why do Children's Services have to be involved?

Children's Services have a legal duty to safeguard the wellbeing of privately fostered children. This includes making sure they are:

  • Safe and well looked after
  • Healthy
  • Receiving a proper education
  • Being encouraged to reach their full potential
  • Keeping in touch with people who are important to them
  • Living with someone who helps them value their culture and sense of identity
  • Properly supported when they become independent


Contact us

If you need to notify us of a Private Fostering arrangement please contact the Multi Agency Referral Unit (MARU) on: 0300 123 1116

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