Private Fostering

Private fostering is very different from a child being cared for by a council foster carer. It is an agreement between the child’s parents and a private carer to look after their child while the parent is away.


Private fostering is a private arrangement between a parent and a carer. When a child under 16 (or 18 if disabled) is cared for and provided with accommodation, by an adult who is not a relative, for 28 days or more, it is called private fostering.

A relative in this situation is either a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt. They can be a full or half relation and could be related by marriage. Relatives also include step-parents.

Partners of the mother or father of a child would not qualify as a relative; neither would extended family members such as great aunts, great uncles or parent’s cousins.

There are many reasons why a child may be in a private fostering situation.

They include:

  • living with a family friend because of a family crisis
  • a teenager (possibly a teenage parent) is living with friends or neighbours
  • their parents may be studying or working unsociable hours
  • refugee and homeless children
  • children with parents overseas
  • trafficked children

The local authority has a legal duty to ensure that children and young people in this situation are safe and properly cared for. Under the Children Act, you must tell the local authority if you are entering into a private fostering arrangement.

Please note: it is an offence not to notify your local authority of such an arrangement.