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Private Fostering

Private Fostering

Looked after children

What is 'Private Fostering'?

A ‘Privately Fostered’ child is a child under the age of 16 (18 if disabled) who is cared for and accommodated by someone other than a parent or close relative* for more than 28 days.

*Close Relatives are Step Parents (through marriage), Grandparents, Brothers/Sisters or Aunts/Uncles.

There are a variety of reasons why a parent may be unable to care for their own child on a short or long term basis and a private fostering arrangement can be a positive response from friends and the local community to a family in need of support. However any child separated from their parents is potentially vulnerable and we all have responsibilities to ensure the alternative care they receive meets their welfare and safety needs.


What are the responsibilities of parents and private foster carers?

When a child or young person is privately fostered, the child or young person’s parents retain parental and financial responsibility.

The law states that anyone directly involved in arranging the placement must notify the local authority about the arrangement six weeks before the start of the private fostering arrangement or in emergency situations within 48 hours of the placement beginning.

Private foster carers are responsible for carrying out any duties agreed with the parents and must allow a representative of the local authority to visit the child or young person at the premises where the child or young person is being privately fostered, to make sure the child / young person is safe and well cared for. Children and young people must been seen and spoken to alone during these visits unless it is considered inappropriate to do so.

Parents are expected to be fully involved in planning for the future of their child or young person and it is advisable that a written agreement is drawn up between the parent and the carer outlining the essential aspects of the arrangement.


What to do

It is a legal requirement for people who make arrangements for a child to be privately fostered to notify the Private Fostering team of your intentions at least 6 weeks in advance, or in emergency cases, immediately after the child becomes Privately Fostered.

The Parents and the private foster carers are responsible for notifying us.

Private foster carers should also notify us of any changes in their own circumstances whilst they are caring for the child or young person.

Private foster carers also need to let us know when a child or young person leaves their care, giving the name and address of the person they are moving on to.

telephoneContact the Private Fostering team on 01234 718718


What are the council’s responsibilities?

To keep children and young people safe and support families, Bedford Borough Council need to make regular checks of private fostering arrangements. This is because the local authority has a legal duty to safeguard the wellbeing of children and young people (The Children’s Act 1989, Private Arrangements for Fostering Regulations 2005). If the care of the child / young person or the accommodation is unsuitable, the local authority can prevent or stop a child or young person being privately fostered. The local authority can also make sure the carer rectifies a problem, for example, fitting smoke alarms or fire guards in the home. They can also give advice and support for private foster carers and to parents involved in the arrangement.

The law says that the council must be told about every child or young person who is being privately fostered so that the council can check that children are being properly looked after.

It is our legal duty to make sure all private fostering arrangements are safe for the child or young person, but we can only do this if we are aware of the arrangement. Once informed of the arrangement it is our job to check the suitability of private foster carers, to make regular visits to the child or young person and to ensure advice, help and support is available when needed.


Local leaflet and poster on Private Fostering

Leaflet - Click here for the Private Fostering leaflet

Poster - The poster by clicking on this link 



Updates to National documents

Working Together to Safeguard Children updated July 2018 - click here for updated version

Information Sharing - Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers updated July 2018 - updated version here