Caring for Children

Provided by the Children's Services Department

Somebody else’s child

What you need to know

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is an arrangement between a child’s parents and another adult who is not directly related and is not a legal guardian with parental responsibility.

It is not private fostering if the carer is a direct relative to the child such as grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts. Children and teenagers who are under 16 (18 if disabled) are considered to be privately fostered if they live with someone for 28 days or more.

The law states that carers and parents must notify the local authority of any private fostering arrangement. We need to be sure that the child is safe, healthy and happy and offer support to you as a private foster carer where needed.

Why might a child be privately fostered?

A private fostering arrangement might happen for a number of reasons. This might include:

  • a teenager living with the family of a boyfriend, girlfriend or a school friend’s family because of family breakdown;
  • a child living with a friend of their family because of separation, divorce or arguments at home;
  • a child needing to be cared for because a parent has a long-term illness and is unable to look after the child;
  • a child being sent to this country by their parent(s) who are living overseas; or
  • a child needing to be cared for because their parent(s) work away from home or work particularly long or unsociable hours.

Your responsibility as a private foster carer

  • You must notify Hampshire County Council of your intention to privately foster a child.
  • Obtain the written consent from parents to have the day to day responsibility of their child.
  • Keep in touch with the child’s parents.
  • Make sure you have the background information (including medical history) of the child before he or she is placed with you.
  • Register the child with your GP.

Private fostering is a big responsibility. It is important that you have a good understanding of the child’s needs, particularly if they are of a different race, culture or religion, or the child has other special needs.

Notify your Local Authority

It is a legal requirement for carers and parents to notify the Local Authority of any private fostering arrangement. We need to be informed so we can make sure that suitable arrangements have been made for the child, and that support and guidance is given to the child and family they are staying with.

To notify Hampshire County Council of a private fostering arrangement:

If the private fostering arrangement changes or ends you must tell the responsible Local Authority within 48 hours of the placement ending. The name and address of the person who has taken over the care of the child must be provided.

Supporting you

Once we have been notified of the private fostering arrangement a social worker will make arrangements to visit you at your home. The social worker will want to meet with the child and talk to them and to you.

The social worker will visit at least every six weeks during the first year of the private fostering arrangement. After this they may visit less often. The social worker will be able to give you guidance and make sure that the arrangements are suitable for the carers, parents and children involved. Generally, the private fostering arrangements that parents make are appropriate to their children’s needs, and children are safe and well cared for whilst living away from home.

Where placements are appropriate we still remain involved; monitoring each arrangement and providing support to the private foster carer to ensure that he/she they are able to continue to meet the child’s needs until they are able to return home or are legally old enough to live independently.

For further advice and information

If you require more information about private fostering please contact us:

Private Fostering
Children’s Services Department
Office Services
Hampshire County Council
Elizabeth II Court East
SO23 8UG

0300 555 1384