What is private fostering?
Private fostering is the name for an informal arrangement made by parents for a child to live with another family.
A child is automatically being privately fostered if they are:
- Under the age of 16 (or 18 if they’re disabled), and
- They are being provided with accommodation by someone who is not a close relative. A close relative is an aunt, uncle, step-parent, grandparent or sibling, but not a cousin, grand aunt/uncle or a family friend, and
- It is intended that the young person will be provided with accommodation for a period of 28 days or more.
Why some children and young people are privately fostered
Here are some of the more common examples of private fostering:
- Children living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home,
- Teenagers living with friends or extended family following problems at home,
- Children whose parents work or study at unsociable hours, making it difficult for them to use ordinary day care or after school care,
- Children sent to this country for education or health care by birth parents living overseas.
It is not private fostering if:
- Gloucestershire County Council makes the arrangement for the child or young person to live with an approved foster carer,
- The carer is a legal parent by birth or adoption,
- The carer has a legal order which gives them parental responsibility,
- The arrangement lasts for less than 28 days.
Support for private foster carers
We can offer support to private foster carers, which can take various forms. For further information of support available to you, please contact us.
Tell us about a private fostering arrangement
When a child is privately fostered the child’s parents still have full parental responsibility in the eyes of the law.
The law requires that parents and carers and any others directly involved in the arrangement must notify their local authority at least six weeks before the arrangement begins that they intend to privately foster a child.
If an arrangement is made in an emergency the notification must be made within 48 hours.
It's the law
The council has a legal duty to make sure that all private fostering arrangements are safe for the child. We have to ensure that the child or young person is being looked after properly, that appropriate arrangements are agreed between parties and that everyone involved knows who to ask for help if advice or support is needed.
Failure to notify us of a private fostering arrangement is an offence.
Private Fostering Social Worker
Friends and Family Assessment and Support Team
Gloucestershire County Council