If you are caring for a child under the age of 16 (under 18 with disabilities) who is not a close relative, you must let us know

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a ‘close relative’. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more. If you are currently private fostering or thinking of entering a private fostering arrangement, you need to notify your local authority. In Reading, this is Brighter Futures for Children. View our Private Fostering Statement of Purpose 2023-2024

Often, people are privately fostering without realising it

If the child or young person you are looking after is:

  • under the age of 16 (18 if the child has a disability)
  • not a close relative – grandchild, niece, nephew, sibling, or step-child
  • in your care for more than 28 consecutive days

Then you are a private foster carer.

Examples of private fostering

You might be a private foster because the child’s parents:

  • are in hospital for an extended period
  • serving a prison sentence
  • are separating, divorcing or going through a family crisis
  • have sent them to the UK because of concerns about safety, education or quality of life
  • have gone overseas for an extended period to visit relatives, deal with a family crisis or work

What you need to do

We have a responsibility to make sure all privately fostered children are well cared for, safe, and that you are supported. If you are caring for someone else’s child, and haven’t informed us, you must do so immediately.

If you are planning to provide private foster care you must inform us at least six weeks in advance.

Once we are aware that you are providing private foster care, or that you plan to, we will carry out a child and family assessment to consider the suitability of the private fostering arrangement.

This will include background checks on you, your partner, and anyone else in your household aged 16 or over, including a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

We will also make sure:

  • you receive support and advice
  • the child’s educational, emotional, cultural and physical needs are met
  • parents and carers work together for the benefit of the child
  • we take necessary steps if the care provided is not satisfactory

Get in touch

young teen male with older female family friend

Get in touch with us if you’re planning an arrangement or think you are already private fostering.

Call us on 0118 937 4451 or click the button to email.