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Private Fostering

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. 

Close relatives are defined as: 

  • step-parents 
  • grandparents 
  • brothers or sisters 
  • uncles or aunts 

They can be full blood, half blood or marriage/partnership. 

This is usually a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more. 

While many of these children will be fine, some could be at risk of abuse. 

Tell us about private fostering 

01708 433222 Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm
01708 433999 Out of hours/weekends 

Why is the Council involved? 

The Council are involved as we need to keep children safe and support families who are looking after privately fostered children,  

All parents and private foster carers must notify the local council of a private fostering arrangement. If not, they miss out on essential welfare checks for children, plus other support and services. 

You can help us keep children safe by spreading the word and telling us if you know of a child who is being privately fostered. 

If you are involved in private fostering it is your legal duty to inform the Council, who can offer you and your privately fostered child lots of help and support (remember if the arrangement was made by social services it is not private fostering). 

Privately fostered children are safeguarded by the Children Act 1989 and 2004.  Under the act, councils have a legal requirement to satisfy themselves that the welfare of children who are privately fostered in their area are being satisfactory safeguarded. 

The Department for Education has provided statutory guidance for local authorities on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of privately fostered children.  

You can learn more about the national minimum standards for private fostering on the website. 

Information for children and teenagers 

If you are under the age of 16 (18 if you are disabled) and your mum and dad have asked someone who is not your relative to look after you for 28 days or more, you may be privately fostered. 

If you are being privately fostered Havering Council needs to know who is looking after you and where you are living. 

If you are being privately fostered, things you should know. You should: 

  • feel safe and comfortable in your new home 
  • be in regular contact with your parents 
  • be attending school 
  • be registered with a doctor 
  • be able to practice your religious beliefs and observe your culture 

If you are not happy where you are living, you can talk to a social worker, teacher or another adult you can trust. 

Information for professionals 

Professionals play an important role by identifying and notifying Havering Council of private fostering arrangements and by ensuring parents and carers are aware of their responsibilities. 

By monitoring and supervising private fostering arrangements we can all help to safeguard children at risk of abuse and neglect.  

In particular professionals working in the universal services of health and education have a pivotal role as they will often be the first to become aware of such arrangements. 

These agencies share the local Councils responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of privately fostered children. 

Other agencies need to be aware that failure by a private foster carer or parent to notify a local authority of a private fostering arrangement is an offence and if local authorities are not aware of such arrangements they cannot carry out their duty to ensure that the welfare of the children concerned is being satisfactorily safeguarded. 

If you believe a child is being privately fostered please contact us. 

Examples of a Private Fostering arrangement:

  • 12 year old Robert has been living with his great uncle for the past two months whilst his parents visit family in another country. Robert’s parents have asked his great uncle to look after him for another six months.

Is this Private Fostering? Yes. Because the arrangement has been made by Robert’s parents and his great uncle, who is not a close relative, and because he is under 16 years and will be living with them for more than 28 days, this is private fostering

  • Lily is six and has been living with her grandparents for the past three weeks while her parents are on holiday – they are due back next week.

Is this Private Fostering? No. Lily’s parents are due back before she has been staying with her grandparents for longer than 28 days. Even if she stays with them longer, the law states they are close relatives so this is not Private Fostering

  • Lorenzo from Italy attends a Language School and is placed with a host family. He is 14 years old and his family has agreed to this arrangement and has paid for it. He will be in the UK for 3 months.

Is this Private Fostering? Yes. A child is privately fostered where a person assumes personal care in a capacity which is not part of their duties in relation to any school in which the child is receiving fulltime education, if the duration of the placement is or is intended to be 28 days or more.

Next Steps:

Private Fostering enquiries should be made to the MASH in Havering:

You don’t need to be certain it is a Private Fostering arrangement to contact the MASH- they will make the enquiries.


More Information:

Private Fostering – Havering Safeguarding Children Partnership (

Havering Council:

HSCP 7 minute briefing Private Fostering March 23

Private Fostering: Information and Advice for professionals – 7 minute Guide’

PF and YC letter April 2023