Private fostering

Private foster care in Suffolk and your responsibilities, if you are related or not to a child, and the types of private fostering in Suffolk.

Private foster care occurs when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their relative for 28 days or more.

This type of fostering is organised through a private arrangement between parent and carer.

You must inform us when a child is privately fostered as we have to ensure the child is safe and properly cared for.

Definition of relative

Private fostering requirements do not apply to if you are a full relation, half relation or related by marriage to the child.

The Children Act 1989 defines a relative as only a:

  • sibling, aunt or uncle 
  • grandparent
  • stepparent

Great aunts or uncles, cousins or a parents current of former partner are not defined as relatives.

Types of private fostering

Typical examples of private fostering arrangements are children or young people who are:

  • sent to this country by parents who live overseas
  • living with a friend’s family because they don’t get on with their own family
  • living with a friend’s family because their parents’ study or work involves unsociable hours
  • children staying with another family because their parents have separated or divorced
  • a child from overseas staying with a host family while studying

Your responsibilities and assessment

You are legally required to tell us in advance about a private fostering agreement and provide details of the child's address.

All practitioners need to be aware of their responsibilities and obligations when they come across a private fostering arrangement.  

Once you have notified us of the agreement we will:

  • visit the child within 7 working days of notification and complete a notification form
  • complete a private fostering arrangement assessment of suitability and various safeguarding checks including enhanced DBS checks on all household members over 16
  • undertake regular visits to the child (every 6 weeks for the first year and 12 weekly thereafter) ensuring that the child is seen alone (unless deemed inappropriate)

Further information

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