Private fostering

Information about what private fostering is, and the support we offer, is available here.

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (or under 18 if they have a disability) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative. Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity).

This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, expected to last 28 days or more.

This is different to fostering arrangements coordinated by a social worker due to worries about a child’s safety or wellbeing.

A few examples of private fostering (where this lasts for 28 days or more) include:

  • Children staying with another family whilst their parent receives hospital treatment or recovers from surgery or ill health.
  • Children staying with another family while their parent works away from home.
  • Children staying with another family while their parent is in another country.
  • Children on student exchange holidays.
  • Children sent to study in England while their family remain in another country.
  • Teenagers that have had a fall out with their family and are staying with a friend’s family.

What the law says about private fostering

The law requires parents, prospective private foster carers and anyone who is involved in arranging for a child to be privately fostered, to notify their local Children’s Social Care services of the arrangement six weeks before it begins.

This means that if a child is being privately fostered by someone that lives in Redcar and Cleveland, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council must be notified.

Many parents, carers and people who work with children and families are not aware of the notification requirements. As a result, many private fostering arrangements remain hidden, leaving some children vulnerable to abuse and neglect

Parent’s Responsibility

If your child is being looked after by someone who is not a close relative, and this is likely to continue for more than 28 days, the law requires you to notify your local council.

Carer’s Responsibility

If you are likely to be looking after someone else’s child for 28 days or more, the law requires you to notify your local council.

People working with children who might be privately fostered

If you are a professional and a private fostering arrangement comes to your attention, you have a legal duty to notify the local authority if you are not satisfied that the parent or carer has done so.

Professionals can find more information about their responsibilities here.

What will Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council do?

When the council are informed of a private fostering arrangement, a social worker will speak with the parent, carer and child to assess the situation.

The social worker will arrange for some checks of the private foster carer, their household and home to make sure they are suitable to look after the child. This will involve undertaking a DBS check of the carer and other adults in the household.

If there are serious concerns the Council have the power to prohibit the arrangement.

The social worker will then visit every 6 weeks to check things are okay and speak with the child, after one year this reduces to once every 12 weeks.  The social worker will make sure that the child and carer has access to any help and support they may need.

For more information please see: