Private fostering is when a child or young person aged under 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled) is cared for and provided with accommodation for 28 days or more by an adult who is not a close relative.
A close relative is an aunt, uncle, step parent, grandparent or sibling, but not a cousin, great aunt/uncle or family friend.
A private fostering arrangement is normally organised between the parent and carer. There are many private fostering situations. These may involve children or young people:
- who are sent to this country for education or health care by their birth parents from overseas
- whose parents work or study long or antisocial hours
- who are living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home
- who are living with their partner’s family.
What do I have to do if I am privately fostering or my child is privately fostered?
Any parent, private foster carer, or anyone else involved in making a private fostering arrangement, must notify the council for the area in which the child will be or is placed.
You have a responsibility to ensure that your child is in a suitable and safe private fostering arrangement that provides for your child’s cultural, religious, linguistic and other needs.
If you think that your child will be in this placement for 28 days or longer, you have a legal duty to tell the Council at least six weeks before the arrangement is due to start. If the arrangement is due to start within six weeks or is already in place, then you must tell the MASH team at the Council immediately.
The law states that you must tell us of a private fostering arrangement, this information will help us ensure that your child is well looked after and does not come to any harm.
A private fostering arrangement does not mean that you are giving up your rights to your child. This is a temporary arrangement and you still have parental responsibility and will continue to be involved in all decisions about your child’s life. It is very important that you stay in contact with your child as much as possible. By staying in contact, you will know of any changes in the circumstances of the carer (for example if they go on holiday or move house).
What if I already privately foster but did not know that it I had to tell the Council?
You should contact us and explain the situation. We will be pleased to take your details and explain the first stage of the assessment process. Please remember that if you are involved in a private fostering arrangement and you don’t notify us you are committing an offence, and could risk a fine.
If you are involved, or likely to be involved in a private fostering arrangement and have not already told, or if you are in any doubt as to whether the regulations might apply to you, you should seek advice from the Lewisham MASH team.
Why does the Council need to get involved?
We have a legal duty to ensure that your child is being looked after safely and that the arrangement is suitable for your child. We will make regular visits to your child and his or her private foster carer, and we can provide help and advice where necessary.
If the private foster carer is not giving you enough information or you are unhappy about the standard of care your child is receiving, then you should contact us as soon as possible. Together we will do our best to ensure that your child is safe and well looked after.
Phone Lewisham MASH team on telephone number 020 8314 9181 or 020 8314 6660 or by email email@example.com
Private fostering referral and assessment team telephone number 020 8314 6523
Private Fostering Fact Sheet
Is Someone Else Looking After Your Child?
Are You Looking After Someone Else's Child?
Who is Looking After You?