What must I do if I intend to foster a child privately?

The law requires that you inform your Local Authority at least 6 weeks beforehand that you intend to privately foster a child, however if the child arrives suddenly, inform them in no more than 48 hours after the child has arrived.

Make sure the child’s parents tell you as much as possible about the child, his/her health, including any treatment or medication she/he is receiving, diet & favourite foods, her/his education & achievements, her/his daily routines e.g. bedtime, hobbies, interests and activities, her/his religion and ethnic and cultural background and who holds medical and educational records on their child. This will help you to understand the child and take better care of him/her. It is also important to be clear with them whether they have delegated authority to you to consent to things like school trips or any medical consents and that you have proof of this.

How can I get help while I am fostering?

Private foster carers can go to their local authority for help and advice on looking after the child(ren) in their care.

Will I get any money?

There may, in some cases, be financial help available through the Local Authority for children assessed to be in need. This may include a range of support services and in exceptional cases cash. There may also be local support networks in place for local carers. However your arrangement with the parents should include arrangements over how you will meet the child (ren)’s needs financially.

Can I claim Social Security Benefits and how do I get them?

You may be able to claim social security benefits such as Child Benefit and possibly Income Support or Job seekers Allowance if you already receive Child Benefit. Contact your local Benefits Agency Office who will be able to advise you.

What if the child is leaving my care?

You must tell your Local Authority that the child is leaving your care. You must also say why the child is leaving and give the name and address of the person who will be looking after the child.

​Private fostering care occurs when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is looked after for more than 28 days by an adult who is not a relative or someone with parental responsibility for them, by a private arrangement between their parent and a carer.

For example

  • child sent to this country for education or health care by birth parents living overseas
  • children living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home or any other reason
  • teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • people whose work involves unsocial hours which makes it difficult to use ordinary day care
  • children, who for educational reasons, stay with friends or neighbours when their parents move

If you are already a private foster carer or you know that you have a child coming to stay with you, please telephone the Single Point of Access on 01545 574000.