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What is private fostering?

Children who are cared for on a full-time basis, by people who are not their parents or an immediate relative, may be in private foster care.

Private foster care occurs when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is cared for by an adult who is not an immediate relative, and is provided with accommodation for 28 days or more, through a private arrangement made between the parent and the carer.

  • Children are privately fostered if they are living with extended family, great aunts/uncles, cousin, former cohabitee of a parent or a non-relative.
  • Children are not privately fostered if they are living with a relative as defined by The Children Act, a parent, grandparent, step parent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt by full or half relation, or by marriage.

The local council has a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of privately fostered children.

What we do

Professionals in the education, health and social care fields have a shared responsibility to work together to ensure that all privately fostered children are well cared for and are safeguarded from harm.

If you are a parent or carer

The law requires that you tell your local council at least six weeks before the arrangement begins that you intend to privately foster a child, unless the arrangement is made in an emergency in which case the notification must be made within 48 hours.

How the council is involved

  • The council checks the suitability of private foster carers.
  • Makes regular visits to the child and monitors the overall standard of care provided. There may also be help and support available, through the council and other agencies, to assist carer(s). 
  • Ensures that advice to carers is made available.

More information

For advice or information about private fostering arrangements, please contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Telephone: 020 8871 6622

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) 
Wandsworth Town Hall
London SW18 2PT