Private fostering - Looking After Someone Else's Child

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  • Is your child living with another family?
  • Is another family’s child living with you?

What is Private Fostering?

Most children will spend some time staying with friends and relatives as they grow up. These times can be great experiences for children and provide a well-earned break for parents. However, where it is planned for a child to spend more than 28 days with friends or wider family members, or a child ends up spending more than 28 days in the care of friends or wider family, the law requires that City of York Council Children’s Social Care Referral and Assessment Team are told about it so that they can check to make sure that the child is safe and well cared for. This is because the child becomes subject to something known as ‘Private Fostering.

Private Fostering is basically the arrangement by a parent for care of a child by another person. Not all arrangements are ‘Private Fostering’.

  • Private Fostering only applies to children under the age of 16 years old (or under 18 if they have a disability).
  • It doesn’t apply to children in the care of grandparents, aunts and uncles, adult brothers or sisters or step parents.
  • It does apply to children living with the parents of friends, living with a parent’s ex-partner, with wider family such as adult cousins, or with friends of the family.

There are all sorts of arrangements that may be Private Fostering and the law states that the Council must be told about them.  

Why must I involve Children’s Social Care?

The short answer is because the law requires it. The law was introduced to ensure that children in Private Fostering arrangements are seen and spoken to and their welfare is checked to make sure that children do not suffer abuse or neglect. City of York Council will also ensure that the person or people caring for the child and the child’s parents get the help and support that they need.

What will Children’s Social Care do?

When the Council is told about a Private Fostering arrangement, a Social Worker will undertake an assessment. They will visit and speak with the child, the carers and the child’s parents to gather information to be able to make a decision about whether the Private Fostering arrangement is right for the child. If there are no concerns about the arrangement, the Social Worker will continue to visit at regular intervals to make sure everything is going well. They are there to offer support and guidance to the child, the carers and parents. 

Parents’ rights and responsibilities

When a child lives in a Private Fostering arrangement, the child’s parents keep all legal rights and responsibilities. They are expected to continue to financially support their child. Parents should be:

  • Involved in planning the child’s future.
  • Kept in touch about the child’s progress.
  • Involved in any decisions made about the child.

Parents can end a Private Fostering arrangement at any point.

For more information about Private Fostering contact Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01904 551900 email: