Private fostering

A carers' guide to private foster care

What is private foster care?

Children are sometimes placed by their parents, or persons with legal responsibility for them, in the care of someone who is not a close relative. This is called 'Private Fostering'. It is Private Fostering whether or not the parent pays the carer.

It is not a private fostering arrangement if a close relative is asked by a parent to look after a child. To be classed as a 'close' relative you need to be a grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister. Half and step-relatives of those categories are also considered close relatives.

What must I do?

If you are neither an approved foster carer nor a close relative, and the child living with you is below minimum school leaving age and is going to live with you for more than 28 days, this is a Private Fostering arrangement and The Children Act 1989 says you must tell us as soon as possible.  We have a duty by law to ensure the child's needs are being met in your care.  We can also try to help you with any information or advice you need and may be able to link you with some support systems.

Who must I tell?

What will happen then?

We want to make sure that the child is safe, happy and well.  We will put the child first and work in partnership with you and the parents.  Responsible parents often make good arrangements for the care of their children, and where this is the case we aim to intrude as little as possible, whilst safeguarding the child.

What will need to be considered?

The social worker will prepare a report about the suitability of the child's placement with you.  This will be presented to a group of people authorised to make decisions about children's placements.

The social worker will need to discuss:

Will other people be involved?

You will be asked to sign a form to give permission for various checks to be done.  These are for safety reasons and will be done for you and anyone in your household 16 years of age or over.  You will be asked to fill in a Criminal Records Bureau form to check for criminal convictions - please note not all convictions debar from fostering.  You will need to provide proof of identity to be sent with the form, eg passport and birth certificate.  The social worker will set in motion various record checks and checks with your GP and the NHS.  If there are any issues, they will be discussed openly with you.  The social worker must also make enquiries about the child's health and discuss any important issues.

Are some people not allowed to foster?

Some people are forbidden to foster privately, for example:

Other crimes if serious or multiple can also debar from fostering. A senior manager will take decisions about this depending on the nature and number of crimes.

What if I am approved?

If you are approved, letters will be sent to:

and the social worker will visit you to discuss what happens next within 10 days or the decision being made.

What if I am not approved?

You have the right to appeal against this decision, and this should be made in writing within ten working days of receiving the notification.  Your letter of appeal should include the reasons why you wish to appeal against the decision.  Your appeal will be heard by our Private Fostering Appeals Sub Committee.

You will have a further right of appeal to Calderdale Family Proceedings Court, Harrison Road, Halifax should your appeal to the Private Fostering Appeals Sub Committee be unsuccessful.

How should I treat the child?

Private Foster Carers - or any adult! - should of course not hurt children or make them feel unhappy or frightened.  But you will need to make sure a child obeys sensible rules and doesn't put people in danger.  If the child feels you go too far or are too rough, they have the right to let a social worker or any trusted adult know straight away.

For example, as a helpful guide:

In terms of discipline:

If you are in doubt or need guidance, we will be happy to help!

Do's and don'ts

When you are privately fostering you will need to take care to provide the basic requirements for the child and may need to seek advice on certain actions.

Some things private foster carers should do:

As a private foster carer, you need to seek parental permission to:

If a child needs serious medical treatment, it is best to seek permission. No child should be put in danger however - if a parent cannot be found and it's an emergency, the child must go to a doctor or hospital and doctors will take decisions about treatment based on what is in the child's interest.

Last Updated: 15/03/2016