Private fostering

Private fostering is an arrangement made by parents, or someone with parental responsibility, for their child to be cared for away from home by another adult who is not closely related to the child.

It is not private fostering if the carer is a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt or step parent.

Children and teenagers who are under 16 (18 if disabled) are considered to be privately fostered if they live with someone who is not a close relative for 28 consecutive days or more.

The law states that carers and parents must notify the children's services department of any private fostering before the arrangement begins. If the arrangement has already begun then you must notify us immediately. You will then be contacted by a social worker who will visit and discuss the arrangements with you. Children's services must make sure the child is safe, healthy and happy, and offer support and advice to private foster carers and parents where needed.

Teachers, health and other professionals have a responsibility to notify Swindon Borough Council's children's services of any private fostering arrangement that comes to their attention.

Typical examples of private fostering arrangements 

  • Children sent to this country, for education or health care, by parents who live overseas
  • A teenager living with a friend’s family because they don’t get on with their own family or due to other family circumstances
  • Children living with a friend’s family because their parents’ study or work involves unsociable hours, which make it difficult to use ordinary day care or after-school care
  • Children staying with another family because of a family crisis such as parents’ ill health or parent’s separation
  • A child from overseas staying with a host family while attending a language school
  • Students at boarding school who stay with a host family during holidays
  • Forces families where children stay with another family while their parents are deployed

You must notify children's services if:

  • You are caring for someone else's child
  • You are making arrangements for your child to be looked after by a person who is not a close relative
  • You are a person who is aware of private fostering arrangements being made for a child

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