Private fostering

Is your child living with someone else?

Are you looking after someone else’s child?

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. Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or through marriage). Examples of private fostering include a:

• child from abroad, sent by parents to this country for education or health care reasons

• child living with family friends because their parents have separated or are unwell

• teenager living with the family of a boy/girlfriend.

If you are a parent of a child who is privately fostered or a private foster carer

  • Parent: If your child is being looked after by someone who is not a close relative, and this is likely to continue for more than 28 days, the law requires you to notify your local council.
  • Carer: If you have been looking after someone else’s child for 28 days or more, the law requires you to notify your local council.

Contact South Gloucestershire Council by ringing 01454 866000 or email

What we will do

All councils are legally required to make sure that children being privately fostered are well cared for, are safe and their needs are being met. When you tell us of a private fostering arrangement we will:

  • regularly visit the private foster carer and child in their home to speak to them and speak to the parents;
  • provide help and advice. For example, making sure that the carer receives all the welfare benefits that they are entitled to, and help to reunite the child with their parents if it is appropriate to do so.

However, if we think that an arrangement is unsuitable and the child cannot be returned to his or her parents, we will have to act to protect the child. This might mean providing support to the carer or, in some circumstances, taking the child into care.

Not ready to call us?

If you are a private foster carer, or your child is being privately fostered, or you know of a child being privately fostered you must inform your local council. However if you would like to talk it through with someone first you could call:

  • CoramBAAF Adoption and Fostering Academy advice line: 0300 222 5775
  • Fosterline – the foster carers’ advice line: 0800 040 7675
  • Or you could visit the Somebody else’s child web site.

If you know of a child who is privately fostered

If you know of a child who is privately fostered please don’t ignore it. It is likely that everything is fine, but it is a legal requirement that the parent/carer inform their local council. If appropriate speak to the parent or carer. Alternatively you can contact us by ringing 01454 866000 or email

Contact details

Contact South Gloucestershire Council's fostering team on
01454 866423