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

To notify the local authority about a child living in a private fostering arrangement please contact the Front Door for Families as follows: 

Guardianship Agencies, Host Families and Language Schools

Please complete the Private Fostering Initial Contact Information (Host Families) and email it to: 

Professionals (housing; schools; health etc) and members of the public

Please complete our Online Form 

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 booklet (PDF 532KB).

Private fostering statement of purpose

The 2023 to 2024 private fostering statement describes how the authority meets its obligations as set out in the National Minimum Standards for private fostering.

Please use the poster (PDF 266KB) and flyer (PDF 234KB) to raise awareness about private fostering with members of the public.