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Private Fostering Information

Most children spend time staying with friends and relatives at some time during their childhood, however, for some children these arrangements can be longer term.


If a child under 16 years (or 18 if they are disabled) stays with an adult who is not a close relative (close relative is defined as sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent and step parent) for 28 days or more, this is known as a private fostering arrangement and special rules apply.


Private fostering is the term used to describe an arrangement made privately (that is without the involvement of the local authority) between a child's parents and a carer of their choice.


A child is considered to be in private foster care if they are in the full time care of someone who is not directly related, nor is a legal guardian, for a total of 28 days or longer.


The period of 28 days does not have to be continuous. If, for example, a child regularly stays with a school friend's family and this arrangement adds up to 28 days or longer, after which he or she returns home to the full-time care of their parents, then this would not be a private fostering arrangement.


However, if a child is cared for by a non-relative or legal guardian but returns to the parent at weekends, then this is a private fostering arrangement.


There are duties to be aware of and report if a school believes that a pupil is living in a private fostering arrangement. The school has a duty to make a referral to Children's Services, so an assessment can be carried out, to ensure that the person looking after that child or young person is promoting their welfare and safety.