Private fostering, practitioner responsibilities

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Duty Front Desk
London Borough of Barnet

North London Business Park
Oakleigh Road South
N11 1NP

Phone number
020 8359 4066

Fax Number
0871 594 8766


Private fostering, practitioner responsibilities

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is a private arrangement that is made between the parent and the person caring for the child. It is not fostering where the local authority arranges for an approved foster carer to look after a child “in care”.

A ‘privately fostered’ child is one aged under 16 (or under 18 years if they are disabled), who is cared for by an adult for more than 28 days who is not their:

  • parent
  • close relative, such as grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt or step parent
  • legal guardian.

Privately fostered children could include:

  • adolescents that have to live away from their family as a result of separation, divorce or disputes at home
  • children who are living with somebody else because their parents are studying or working during unsociable hours
  • children sent to this country for education or health care opportunities by birth parents living overseas
    cultural exchange students
  • refugee children or teenagers living with the family of a girlfriend or boyfriend
  • any child whose parents have made a private arrangement for them to be looked after by someone else.

Further information about private fostering can be found on the British Association for Adoption and Fostering website.

Practitioner's responsibilities

If you are a professional working with children, it is important for you to notify us using the private fostering notication form. If you are in contact with a child in private foster care. This will ensure their safety against abuse or neglect and will also help ensure that the child is being cared for properly.

Privately fostered children will come into contact with a range of professionals, for example they should be registered with a GP (local doctor) and if they are of school age then they should be attending school.

All practitioners have a responsibility to notify us if they believe a child they are in contact with is in a private fostering arrangement. The notification should include the name and address of the private foster carer.

Our involvement

We are responsible for making sure that all privately fostered children are well cared for and safe. We will do this by:

  • making compulsory police checks on the private foster carers and anyone aged over 16 living in that household
  • ensuring that the private foster carer receives the relevant support and advice required for looking after someone else’s child
  • ensuring the child’s educational, emotional, cultural and physical needs are met
  • helping parents and private foster carers to work together for the benefit of the child
  • taking action if the care provided is not satisfactory.

We are not responsible for:

  • the day-to-day care of children
  • any financial disputes between the parent and the private foster carer.