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What is Private Fostering?

What is private fostering

Private Fostering happens when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is being looked after in the home of someone who is not a close relative or guardian for more than 28 days.

Private fostering arrangements often come about as a positive response to a family's difficult circumstances; however, the child's welfare must always come first. 

Is the child being privately fostered?

If a child is living with a relative as defined under the Children Act 1989, i.e. a grandparent, brother, sister, aunt or uncle (whether of full or half blood or by marriage) or a step-parent then they are NOT being privately fostered.

If a child is living with a friend of the family, a friend's parents or a neighbour, they are being privately fostered. Occasionally, someone previously unknown to the child's family might be willing to privately foster a child.

It is NOT a private fostering arrangement if you look after someone else's child for a short time, e.g. when they are ill, go into hospital or go on holiday.

When does private fostering happen?

Private fostering often starts without much planning or what began as a short-term arrangement continues for a longer period.

Some examples include:

  • Children want to stay in the same school when their parents move so they move in with friends.
  • A young person may get on better with a friend's parents than their own and so moves in.
  • Arguments at home lead to a young person wanting to live apart from family.
  • Parents have sent a child to this country for their education or health reasons.

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