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4.10 Privately Fostered Children


In January 2014, links to guidance were updated.


  1. Definition of Private Fostering
  2. Requirement to Notify the Local Authority about Privately Fostered Children
  3. Local Authority Duties Towards Privately Fostered Children

1. Definition of Private Fostering

A Private Fostering arrangement is essentially one that is made, without the involvement of a local authority, for the care of a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) by someone other than a parent or close relative for 28 days or more.

Privately fostered children are a diverse and sometimes vulnerable group which includes:

  • Children sent from abroad to stay with another family, usually to improve their educational opportunities;
  • Asylum-seeking and refugee children;
  • Teenagers who, having broken ties with their parents, are staying in short-term arrangements with friends or other non-relatives;
  • Language students living with host families.

2. Requirement to Notify the Local Authority about Privately Fostered Children

Under the Children Act 1989, private foster carers and those with Parental Responsibility are required to notify the local authority of their intention to privately foster or to have a child privately fostered, or where a child is privately fostered in an emergency.

In addition, teachers, health and other professionals should notify the local authority of any private fostering arrangement that comes to their attention, where they are not satisfied that the arrangement has been or will be notified.

Any such notification should be made to Children's Social Work Services.

3. Local Authority Duties Towards Privately Fostered Children

It is the duty of every local authority to satisfy itself that the welfare of any child who is privately fostered within its area is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted. This includes an initial visit to the child and private foster carers within one week of receiving notification that the placement has started and subsequent assessment under the Assessment Framework Triangle in Working Together.

The local authority must also arrange to visit privately fostered children at regular intervals. Children should be given the contact details of the social worker who will be visiting them while they are being privately fostered.

All arrangements and regulations in relation to Private Fostering are set out in the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005.

When there are concerns about Significant Harm in relation to a child who is privately fostered, the local authority and all the other agencies have the same duties to make enquiries as they do to any other child.

Any such concerns must be reported to the local authority where the private foster placement is located in accordance with the Making Referrals to Children's Social Care Procedure and the Inter Agency Safeguarding Children Procedures for Managing Individual Cases (set out in Part 3 of this manual) will be applied.