Looking after someone else's child

Private fostering

A private foster carer is:

  • someone that looks after a child who's under 16 (under 18 if they're disabled) for more than 28 days in a row
  • not a close relative of the child - close relatives include a grandparent, brother or sister, uncle or aunt or step-parent

By law you must tell us if you've asked someone who's not a close relative to look after your child or if you're looking after a child that's not a close relative.

Tell us about private fostering

You should let us know six weeks before the private fostering arrangement starts or straight away if it's already started. If we arranged the care for you then it's not private fostering.

What to expect if you're a private foster carer

A social worker will visit you and the child to make sure the child is:

  • safe, healthy and being properly cared for
  • getting a proper education
  • keeping in touch with people who are important to them
  • having their racial, cultural, language and religious needs met

They'll also do background checks on you and offer you help and support.

If you think a child is being privately fostered please let us know. If you work in healthcare or education you don't have to keep this information confidential.

Family and friends carer

A family and friends carer (sometimes called a kinship carer) can be a grandparent, brother or sister, uncle or aunt, step-parent, or family friend looking after a child who can't be cared for by their birth parents.

You don't have to tell us if you're looking after a child that's a close relative. You must be approved as a foster carer if we ask you to look after a child.