Private fostering, practitioners responsibilities

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is a private arrangement that is made between the parent and the person caring for the child.

A ‘privately fostered’ child is one aged under 16 (or under 18 years if they are disabled or from the Ukraine), who is cared for by an adult for more than 28 days who is not their:

  • parent
  • close relative, such as grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt or step parent
  • legal guardian.

Privately fostered children could include:

  • adolescents that have to live away from their family as a result of separation, divorce or disputes at home
  • children who are living with somebody else because their parents are studying or working during unsociable hours
  • children sent to this country for education or health care opportunities by birth parents living overseas 
    cultural exchange students
  • refugee children or teenagers living with the family of a girlfriend or boyfriend
  • any child whose parents have made a private arrangement for them to be looked after by someone else.

Practitioner's responsibilities

If you are in contact with a child you suspect may be living in a Private Fostering arrangement,  it is important for you to notify us. This will ensure their safety against abuse or neglect and will also help ensure that the child is being cared for properly.

Privately fostered children will come into contact with a range of professionals, for example they should be registered with a GP (local doctor) and if they are of school age then they should be attending school.

All practitioners have a responsibility to notify Barnet MASH if they believe a child they are in contact with is in a private fostering arrangement. The notification should include as much information as possible about the child, their parents and the private foster carers. 

Our involvement

We are responsible for making sure that all privately fostered children are well cared for and safe. We will do this by:

  • making compulsory police checks on the private foster carers and anyone aged over 16 living in that household
  • ensuring that the private foster carer receives the relevant support and advice required for looking after someone else’s child
  • ensuring the child’s educational, emotional, cultural and physical needs are met
  • helping parents and private foster carers to work together for the benefit of the child
  • taking action if the care provided is not satisfactory.

We are not responsible for:

  • the day-to-day care of children
  • any financial disputes between the parent and the private foster carer.