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Private fostering

Information on what private fostering is and examples of why it happens.

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (18 if disabled) lives with someone for 28 days of more who is not a: 

  • close relative such as a grandparent, sibling, uncle or aunt or step-parent

  • guardian

  • person with parental responsibility

The parent/s and the private foster carer would make this arrangement, not the local council.

Why may someone private foster?

Private fostering can if happen if the child or young persons:

  • parents live overseas and they come to this country to attend school

  • parents are ill and cannot look after them

  • been estranged from their families

  • attending language schools and staying with host families

Find out more on the  Somebody Else's Child website (opens in a new window).

Are you involved in a private fostering arrangement?

Some people are not aware that they are a private foster carer or their child is in a private fostering arrangement.

Is your child getting looked after by someone else?

If you are thinking of placing your child with a private foster carer you must tell us at least 6 weeks before the placement starts. If it has already begun, tell us straight away.

You are responsible for making sure the placement is suitable for your child. We will do checks on the private fostering carer and their family to make sure they meet your child's needs. See further  guidance for parents on private fostering (pdf, 122kb) (opens in a new window).

Are you looking after someone else's child?

You might be private fostering if you are caring for a child full time and you are not the child's parent or close relative. You must tell us 6 weeks before any arrangement starts or straight away if already begun. Find out more about  caring for someone else's child (pdf, 113kb) (opens in a new window).

Notify us about a private fostering arrangement

You must inform us if you know about a child that is being or going to be privately fostered. By law, we must know of any arrangement. The Dorset's Family Support Service can then make sure the arrangement is suitable.

Please inform Children's Services if you are:

  • the parent/carer of the child or the private foster carer

  • are involved in the arrangement

  • if you know someone is private fostering

Contact the Fostering Team if you want to speak to the lead contact for private fostering and you are a Social Worker or from another local council.

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