Private fostering

Are you looking after someone else's child or is your child going to live with someone else?

Private fostering is when a child under 16 (under 18 if they are disabled) lives with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more. A close relative includes parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and step-parents.

The law says that the council must be informed about all private foster care arrangements. This helps us to make sure that all children and young people are safe, happy and doing well and that they (and their carers) are given advice and support to meet their needs.

Please contact us as soon as you become aware that your child will be staying with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more. The legal requirement is to inform us at least six weeks before the child starts living in the private foster carer’s home (or immediately if the arrangement is already in place). Foster carers, or anyone else involved in the arrangement are also legally required to let us know.

Help and support for families using private foster care arrangements

Privately fostered children are particularly vulnerable, as the arrangements for their care are often made at a time when families are under a lot of stress. It is vital privately fostered children's situations are assessed to ensure their suitability and that the welfare of privately fostered children is actively monitored and promoted.

Once contacted we will:

  • Visit the private foster home and make an assessment of the safety and suitability of the arrangement
  • Take up medical, criminal record and referee checks on any adult living in the home
  • Ensure birth parents are kept informed and continue to be involved in decision making for their child
  • Monitor the welfare of the child and continue to assess the suitability of the private fostering arrangement
  • Offer support, advice and training opportunities to private foster carers

In cases where we do not agree with a private fostering arrangement we have the power to disqualify a person from privately fostering.

If you are being privately fostered, find out, if you can, whether your parent or the person looking after you has told the local council. If you are worried you can speak to a teacher, or another adult you trust. If you know of a child who is being privately fostered, please don’t ignore it. Check whether the parent or carer has informed us. If not, please let us know.

How to notify us

If you require more general advice or information about private fostering please contact the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and we will try to help you. We can be contacted via telephone on 01273 290400 or through email at mash@brighton-hove.gcsx.gov.uk

If you think a child is at risk of harm and need to contact us outside of office hours, call our emergency duty team on 01273 335905 or contact the police.

For more information read our private fostering leaflet (PDF 1mb).

Information about Private Fostering in other languages

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering provides information about private fostering on their website Somebody Else’s Child.

This website includes a number of basic private fostering leaflets in five languages:

  • Bengali
  • French
  • Somali
  • Yoruba
  • Welsh

The leaflets are linked in the top right corner of every page and are free for anyone to print and use (they are in PDF format).

Private fostering statement of purpose

The private fostering statement (PDF 260kb) describes how the authority meets its obligations as set out in the National Minimum Standards for private fostering, issued in 2005.

Please use the Poster and Flyer to raise awareness about Private Fostering with members of the public.