Private fostering

Private fostering is an arrangement a parent makes for their child to live with someone who is not a close relative or guardian, for longer than 28 days. A close relative or guardian is defined as a step-parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle, or someone who has parental responsibility.

If you care for someone else’s child, who is under the age of 16 years (or 18 years if disabled) for 28 days or more, at any one time and you are not a guardian or close relative, you are privately fostering.

It is estimated that approximately 20,000 children in the UK live away from home in private fostering arrangements. However, less than 50% of these arrangements are registered.

What you need to do

Both the parent of the child and those providing the child’s care must inform the council of the arrangement at least 6 weeks before it begins. If you are currently caring for someone else’s child, and you have not informed us, you must do so immediately.

Why you need to inform us

Although it is a private agreement between parents and care providers, there are regulations about how a privately fostered child is looked after. We have a duty and responsibility to check these regulations are followed.

Caring for someone else’s child is a big responsibility. You need to love and care for this child, work in partnership with the parents, regardless of where they live and be able to let go of the child when their time with you comes to an end. We will offer you support in meeting these commitments, as well as offer you advice if you are considering privately fostering someone else’s child.

Who to contact 

Duty and Assessment Team

020 8227 3882 or 020 8227 3852 or 020 8227 3860

Someone will arrange to visit you to talk about the circumstances and how they can best support you and the child. If you are the child’s parent, we will help you to make sure your child is kept safe and cared for during the time you are unable to have your child with you.

For more general enquiries about fostering, you can contact the Fostering Team.

Fostering Team

020 8227 5988 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm) 020 8227 5949 (out of hours)