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Private Fostering

Private fostering is when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is living with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more (defined in Section 66, Children Act 1989).

This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer.

Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity). If a child is living with a close relative, this is not a private fostering arrangement.

The law says that the local authority must ensure your child is safe and well cared for when they are in a private fostering arrangement. Parents and carers who have made a private fostering arrangement must notify the local authority by contacting Herefordshire MASH at least 6 weeks beforehand, or as soon as possible. Professionals should also be aware of private fostering and able to identify private fostering arrangements that need to be notified to the local authority.

There are many reasons why children are privately fostered. For example:

  • Parental ill health.
  • Children or young people who are living with a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home.
  • Children or young people whose parents work or study long or anti-social hours.
  • Children or teenagers on school holiday exchanges that last more than 28 days.
  • Children or teenagers who are on sports or music sponsorships living away from their families.
  • Children or young people from overseas who visit this country and are cared for by someone who is not a close family member.

There is more information, advice and guidance about Private Fostering in Herefordshire on the Council webpage.

To contact Herefordshire MASH about a private fostering arrangement, use the contact information on the Concerned About a Child page above.

Additional Resources & Links

Private Fostering Presentation for Professionals

Recorded 25-min briefing for professionals on what private fostering is and your role as a professional

West Midlands regional guidance on Children Living Away from Home 

National Legislation on Private Fostering

Private Fostering Quick Guide

Private fostering flowchart


A Private Fostering Leaflet and Poster are available for organisations to share in their public spaces – contact for copies

Private Fostering – A3 Poster

Private Fostering – Leaflet