Private Fostering

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Some parents arrange for their children to live with another family or family friends. Sometimes this is just a few days, sometimes it’s for a longer time. If it is 28 days or more and the child is under 16 (or,if they are disabled, under 18), it is called 'private fostering' and the people with whom the child lives are known as private foster carers.

The law says that you need to notify the council if you make arrangements for your child to stay with someone else who is not a close family member. And as a private foster carer you have the responsibility to inform the council that you are looking after someone else's child.

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a parent arranges for their child to live with and be cared for by someone who is not:

  • A parent
  • A close relative
  • Someone who has parental responsibility

Under private fostering arrangements, the law defines a close relative as a child’s brother or sister, grandparent, step-parent, aunt and uncle. An aunt or uncle must be the sister or brother of one of the child’s parents.

These arrangements have to last for a total of 28 days or more. It does not matter if the carer is paid or provides care for free – it is still private fostering. Private fostering is different from public fostering, which is arranged and paid for by the council.

Private foster placements take many forms, these include:

  • Children living with a friend’s family because of separation, divorce or arguments at home
  • Children who have been to the UK to be educated
  • Children who have come seeking asylum with adults they are not related to
  • Young people living with a boyfriend or girlfriend’s family
  • Children whose parent’s antisocial work hours make it difficult to look after them
  • Children who have been brought to the UK to be adopted, prior to the notice to apply to adopt is given
  • Children who have been trafficked and brought to work in the UK

There is a legal duty for the local authority to make sure all private fostering arrangements are safe for the child or young person, but they can only do this if they are aware of the arrangement.

What happens next?

Once the local authority has been notified, they will:

  • Visit the home where the child lives and carry out some checks
  • Make regular visits to make sure that the child is safe and well cared for
  • Make sure that advice is available to carers
  • Say whether or not they find the arrangement acceptable
  • To register if they find it acceptable and then make regular visits to continue to give you advice and ensure that the child remains safe and well cared for

If you have made a private foster arrangement for your child or are planning to, please notify Children Social Care on:

Public Line 020 7926 5555 (24 hours)

Email: helpandprotection@lambeth.gov.uk