Private Fostering is the term used for private care arrangements made between a parent and an adult who is not a close relative, to care for a child aged under 16 (or under 18 if they have a disability) for 28 days or more.
Close relatives as defined in the Children Act 1989 include: grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and step-parents. Private foster carers may be distant relatives, friends of the family or adults previously unknown to the child.
Private fostering is different to fostering set up by the local authority for the care of children looked after/in care.
In a private fostering arrangement the parents retain full parental responsibility for their children; whilst the private foster carer is responsible for the day-to-day care of the child. Parents must be involved in all the planning and decision making about the private fostering arrangement even though the child is not living with them.
Reasons for private fostering arrangements are varied and include:
• Parental illness
• Children sent abroad to improve educational opportunities
• Children who stay with friends because they have fallen out with their parents
• Children who attend a school away from their parents
• Parental separation
• Parental imprisonment
• Children staying with host families whilst on exchange or other courses.
To understand the law surrounding Private Fostering and the requirements placed upon families, individuals and the professionals working with them - please see Ealing's Statement of Purpose which you can download from the right hand side of this page.
If you are a parent making or have made arrangements for your child to be privately fostered you must notify your local authority. Legally you should let the council know about your arrangement at least six weeks before the arrangement is due to begin or within 48 hours of arrangements made in an emergency.
Call Ealing Children’s Integrated Response Service (ECRIS) on 020 8825 8000 to notify us.
It is important that you agree with your private foster carer how the child will be cared for and provide them with as much information as possible about your child including:
• Health and education information
• Dietary requirements
• Details of religion and ethnicity
• Immigration status
If you are becoming a private foster carer you are legally required to notify the local authority about the proposed arrangements at least six weeks before it is due to begin or within 48 hours of arrangements made in an emergency. You must do this even if you do not receive payment.
Call Ealing Children’s Integrated Response Service (ECIRS) on 020 8825 8000 to notify us.
Ealing Council has a legal duty to check that all private fostering arrangements are safe and suitable for the child during their time being privately fostered. We will need to visit you and carry out checks including the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (police check) on all members of the household.
We will help you work together with the child’s parents to agree arrangements for the
day to day care of the child. We will also offer you support and advice about looking after someone else’s child and how best to meet the child’s individual needs. We can also offer training and support groups with other carers.
If you are in doubt as to whether private fostering regulations apply to you then you should contact ECIRS on 020 8825 8000 to ask for guidance.
If you are aware of someone who privately fosters a child, then please advise them to make contact with the council.