Private fostering

Are you looking after someone else's child?

If the child or young person is:

  • under the age of 16 (18 if the child has a disability)
  • not a close relative - grandchild, niece, nephew, sibling (half or full) or step-child
  • in your care for more than 28 consecutive days

Then you are a private foster carer.

Examples of private fostering

There could be a number of reasons why you are taking care of the child or young person. This may be because their parents:

  • are in hospital for an extended period
  • are in prison
  • are separating, divorcing or undergoing a family crisis
  • have sent them to the UK over concerns over safety, education or quality of life
  • have gone overseas for an extended period to visit relatives, deal with a family crisis or work.

What you need to do

Both you and the parents of the child must inform us of the arrangement at least six weeks before it begins. If you are currently caring for someone else’s child, and haven't informed us, you must do so immediately.

Fill in our online form to tell us that you are privately fostering a child.

Why you need to tell us

We ask you to do this because we are responsible for making sure that all privately fostered children are well cared for and safe and that you are supported.

How we'll help

We will do this by:

  • completing disclosure and barring checks on private foster carers and anyone aged over 16 living in that household
  • ensuring that the carer receives relevant support and advice
  • ensuring the child's educational, emotional, cultural and physical needs are met
  • helping parents and carers to work together for the benefit of the child
  • taking action if the care provided is not satisfactory.

A video guide to private fostering