Private fostering is an arrangement between a parent and a carer. This arrangement does not involve the Council and the child is not in care.

It’s not private fostering if the person is already an approved foster carer.

Private fostering could be:

  • children having to live with a family friend after their parents have divorced
  • a young person staying with a friend’s family because of arguments at home
  • children sent to the UK from abroad for education or healthcare
  • looking after children of parents who work anti-social hours
  • children on extended holiday exchanges

Read our Private Fostering Statement of Purpose (PDF 172 KB)

Why we need to know

Legally you need to tell us about any private fostering that is happening. 

This should be as soon as arrangements are in place for the child to stay at least 28 consecutive days. Ideally you should tell us:

  • 6 weeks before fostering begins, or 
  • within 48 hours in emergency situations

You’ll need to tell us when:

  • a child leaves your home
  • who they will be staying with 
  • where they will be staying 

You can tell us by calling contact our Children’s First Contact Service on 020 8770 6001. 

More information for children, professionals, parents and carers can be found on our Private Fostering Leaflets or by sending an email to the Childrens First Contact Service (CFCS).

What we will do

When we are told about a private fostering arrangement, one of our social workers will:

  • speak to the child’s parents, and 
  • visit the private foster carer’s home to speak with them and the child

A Private fostering assessment will be completed.

They will also offer advice and support to the carer if needed. 

If we don’t think the arrangement is suitable we’ll take action to protect the child’s welfare.