What is Private Fostering?
Information for Children and Young People
Do you live at home with your mum and dad, or do you live with a
friend in his or her house?
Do your mum and dad live in another country but you live here so
that you can go to school in this country?
Does your dad work away? Do you live in the house with
your dad's girlfriend whilst your dad is away at work?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions and you
live with someone who is not a close relative of yours then you
might be living in what is called a ‘private fostering'
Private fostering is when a child or young person under 16 (or
under 18 if they have a disability) is living with someone who is
not a close relative for 28 days or more. This might be a friend, a
great aunt, a cousin or someone else known to the child or young
person. A close relative is defined as a grandparent, aunt, uncle,
brother or step-parent by marriage. This type of arrangement is
completely different to fostering arrangements where children and
young people are placed with local authority approved foster
carers, or via friends and family (kinship care) foster carers.
Many private fostering arrangements remain unknown to the local
authority and this is a cause for concern as privately fostered
children and young people, without the safeguards provided by law,
are a particularly vulnerable group.
There are many reasons why children and young people are
privately fostered. Such examples include those listed below.
- Parental ill health.
- Children or young people who visit this country from overseas
for education or health care purposes.
- Children or young people who are living with a
friend/boyfriend/girfriend’s family as a result of parental
separation, divorce or arguments at home.
- Children or young people whose parents work or study long or
- Children or young people on school holiday exchanges that last
more than 28 days.
- Children or young people who are on sports or music
sponsorships living away from their families. A parent or an
agency, such as a college or sports academy, would normally make
such an arrangement.
What does it mean for you, if you are privately fostered?
Children or young people who are privately fostered have the
same rights to protection and access to services as children living
at home with their family. Notifying the local authority of a
private fostering arrangement ensures that:
An assessment and safeguarding checks can be made to ensure that
the private foster carer is a suitably safe adult carer for the
privately fostered child or young person.
The private fostering arrangement is monitored to ensure that
the privately fostered child or young person’s well-being and
individual needs are appropriately met.
Privately fostered children and young people’s wishes and
feelings are listened to and promoted by the local authority.
Regular support visits to the privately fostered child or young
person take place to monitor and promote the progress of the
private fostering arrangement and provide support services where
What are the council’s responsibilities?
To keep children and young people safe and support families,
Bedford Borough Council need to make regular checks of private
fostering arrangements. This is because the local authority has a
legal duty to safeguard the wellbeing of children and young people
(The Children’s Act 1989, Private Arrangements for Fostering
Regulations 2005). If the care of the child / young person or the
accommodation is unsuitable, the local authority can prevent or
stop a child or young person being privately fostered. The local
authority can also make sure the carer rectifies a problem, for
example, fitting smoke alarms or fire guards in the home. They can
also give advice and support for private foster carers and to
parents involved in the arrangement.
The law says that the council must be told about every
child or young person who is being privately fostered so that
the council can check that children are being properly looked
the Private Fostering team on 01234 718718
What are the responsibilities of parents and private foster
When a child or young person is privately fostered, the child or
young person’s parents retain parental and financial
The law states that anyone directly involved in arranging the
placement must notify the local authority about the arrangement six
weeks before the start of the private fostering arrangement or in
emergency situations within 48 hours of the placement
Private foster carers are responsible for carrying out any
duties agreed with the parents and must allow a representative of
the local authority to visit the child or young person at the
premises where the child or young person is being privately
fostered, to make sure the child / young person is safe and well
cared for. Children and young people must been seen and spoken to
alone during these visits unless it is considered inappropriate to
Parents are expected to be fully involved in planning for the
future of their child or young person and it is advisable that a
written agreement is drawn up between the parent and the carer
outlining the essential aspects of the arrangement.
Local leaflet and poster on Private Fostering
Click here for the Private Fostering leaflet
The poster by clicking on this link