Private Fostering

Private fostering is very different from approved foster care provided by the local authority. A private fostering arrangement is when a child under 16 (if disabled, under 18) is cared for and lives with an adult who is not a close relative by private arrangement between parent and carer for more than 28 days.

Children who are looked after by the local authority or a voluntary organisation, placed by a Local Authority or Local Health Authority, or placed for adoption by a local authority or registered adoption society are not privately fostered.

A close relative is defined by the Children Act 1989 and includes step parents, siblings, aunt / uncle, grand parent or person with parental responsibility

What do I need to do?

If you are a parent who is planning to or has already arranged to send their child to live with another person who is not a close relative you must give notice in writing to the Local Authority. If you are the carer or proposed carer or any other person who knows of or becomes aware of a child being cared for by someone other than their parent (or the intention to) you must also contact the Local Authority. Where possible this should happen at least 6 weeks before the arrangement begins. You can contact the local authority by writing to CADT, PO Box 32, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 5WE or phoning them on 606 2006.

You can also contact CADT for advice if you are unsure if the arrangements meet the criteria of private fostering.

Why do I need to notify?

The Children Act 2004 requires that the Local Authority has a legal responsibility to assess private foster carers, be satisfied that the needs of the child are being met and that they are happy and safe. The social worker and private fostering officer can also provide advice and support the carer through the duration of the arrangement.

What information is needed?

  • The child's name, sex and date of birth.
  • The name of the carer and address where the child will be living while being privately fostered.
  • If a private fostering arrangement is made in an emergency you must provide the same written detail within 48 hours of the child moving in.
  • If a child goes to stay with someone and unexpectedly stays 28 days then these written details can be given within 48 hours of the 28 day limit.

What will happen?

  • A social worker will visit the parents to find out why the placement is needed and whether any services can be offered to help keep the child at home.
  • A social worker and the private fostering officer will visit the foster carer to check that the placement is suitable for the child and that it is safe. (Confidential information about the carers will be gathered to make sure they are fit to care for the child).
  • The social worker will visit the child every 6 weeks during the first year and every 12 weeks the second and every year thereafter for the duration of the arrangement to make sure that everything is going well. The parents will be kept informed of how things are going and of any concerns.

The social worker will always be available to speak to parents if they need any advice about the foster home or support to help them bring their child back home.  

Further information
If you want to know more about private fostering please ring CADT on 606 2006.

You can read more about private fostering in the attached leaflet.

If you are a privately fostered child, this leaflet is for you.

There is also information provided by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering on their website

Professional’s responsibility

If you are aware of a private fostering arrangement you must notify the local authority about the arrangement. For further information see the attached professionals guide.

Download the following posters:

Poster 1
Poster 2

If you would like any of the leaflets or posters displayed here please contact:

Carol Bannon
Private Fostering Officer for Wirral

Pensby Children's Centre
Fishers Lane,
Wirral, CH61 8SD

Tel: 0151 666 4721
Mob: 07826 877 229