Private Fostering

If you look after somebody else's child

Help us keep children safe and support families - if you aren't a close relative of a child you are looking after for 28 days or more, you must tell us - let us know by calling 0300 123 5012. For further information, please see the Private Fostering Statement of Purpose 2017 - 2018 (PDF, 460KB)

What is Private Fostering

Private fostering is where a parent arranges for a child aged under 16 (or 18 where the child has disabilities) to be cared for by someone other than a close relative for 28 days or more. It does not apply where the child is placed by the Council, voluntary organisations, or as a result of certain court orders.

The film Somebody Else's Child: A guide to private fostering explains Private Fostering.

Q: I am looking after my cousin, so that's not private fostering, is it?
A: Yes it is. The law only defines close 'relatives' as grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts or step-parents.

For further information, download the Council's Private Fostering handbooks:

What I have to do to become a foster parent

Any parent or private foster parent, or anyone else involved in placing the child must notify Social Services and give details about the child and the placement as soon as possible, preferably at least 6 weeks before the placement begins.

As the parent retains responsibility for the child, it is very important that the parent and private foster parent agree on how the child will be cared for and how the placement will be financed.

This is a private arrangement so why are Social Services Involved?

One of the aims of the Children Act 1989 is to ensure the welfare of children, particularly when they are looked after by someone other than their own families. As a result, where a child is in a private foster home, parents and carers have to let Social Services know. You could be breaking the law if you fail to do so.

What Social Services do

Cheshire Social Services has a number of duties and responsibilities in connection with private fostering. A Social Worker will want to help you keep the child safe and well by:

  • Ensuring your home and household are suitable to care for the child
  • Offering support and advice regarding looking after someone else's child and how to meet the child's physical, emotional, educational and cultural needs
  • Assisting you in working together with the child's parents for the benefit of the child
  • Taking action if the care provided is unsatisfactory.

If you are involved, or likely to be involved in a private arrangement and have not already told Social Services, you should contact your local Social Care Team. If you are in any doubt as to whether the regulations might apply to you, you should seek advice from your local Social Care Team.

Page last reviewed: 19 August 2022

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Cheshire East Consultation Service

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