Private fostering

When you arrange for your child to be looked after by someone else or, you are looking after somebody else's child, this is referred to as a private fostering arrangement. The law says that private fostering arrangements must be reported to the Local Authority by the parent and/or person caring for the child.

Private fostering does not apply if the child is being looked after by a close family member, such as their:

  • Brother or sister
  • Stepparent who is married to the child's parent
  • Grandparent
  • Aunt or uncle

The law does apply when cousins, stepsiblings, great grandparents, great aunts and uncles or any other adult who the child may or may not already know cares for the child.

What should you do if you are looking after a child, but you are not their close relative?

If you are looking after a child or young person who is under 16 years of age (or under 18 years old if they are disabled) for more than 28 days in a row, by law you need to notify the Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA) team. You must tell us about the arrangement, even if you are getting paid to look after the child.

If you are a parent making private fostering arrangements for your child, you need to let C-SPA know in writing at least six weeks before the arrangement begins. If the arrangement is due to start in less than six weeks or the child is already living with the carer you need to let C-SPA know immediately.

Why do you have to tell us about a private arrangement?

The law says we must make sure that all privately fostered children in Surrey are safe and well in the home they are living in, if not with parents or close relatives.

We will offer support and guidance to private foster carers and make sure the child or young person's views and wishes are considered.

What happens next?

We will visit both you and the child or young person at your home within seven working days and explain our role in more detail.

Usually, we will carry out a short assessment of the child's needs and the suitability of the care arrangement. This will include completing Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on all adults living in the carer's home. We also offer ongoing support, advice, and guidance to the private foster carer.

For more information and to tell us about a child or young person you are looking after please contact the Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA) team.

Private fostering is sometimes confused with fostering for a private agency

If you are working with a private fostering agency and are considering changing agency, please get in touch with our Fostering Service. You can also find out more about transferring from a fostering agency.

Our Recruitment and Assessment Team will contact you to talk through our simple transfer process. We will consider your transfer whether you currently have a foster child living with you or not.

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