LSCBLocal Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire

Private Fostering

The nationally accepted definition of Private Fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a 'close relative'.

This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer for 28 days or more.

Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity).

Many private fostering arrangements remain unknown to the local authority. This is a cause for concern as privately fostered children and young people, without the safeguards provided by law, are a particularly vulnerable group.

There are many reasons why children and young people are privately fostered, for example:

  • parental ill health;
  • children sent to this country for health care or education by parents living overseas;
  • children living with a friend’s family as a result of separation, divorce or arguments at home;
  • children at boarding schools who do not return to their parents during holidays
  • teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend;
  • children on holiday exchanges or living with host families for a variety of reasons;
  • children brought from abroad with a view to adopt;
  • children whose parents work unsocial hours;
  • children whose parents are in prison;
  • children whose parents are serving in the forces.

Notifying Northamptonshire Children's Services of a child that is privately fostered

Northamptonshire Children’s Services must be informed of all private fostering arrangements. Professionals that become aware of a child that is being privately fostered should encourage the parent/carer to inform Children’s Services of the arrangement or contact Children’s Services themselves if they think parents/carers may not have done so already.

Use the checklist below to find out if a current or impending arrangement comes under the private fostering regulations. If the answer to the questions below is ‘yes’, then it is likely that a private fostering arrangement is in place, and you will need to contact the local authority – details are below.

Yes No
1. Is the child/young person under 16 years (or under 18 years if disabled)?
2. Are they being provided with accommodation by someone other than a parent, relative or a person with parental responsibility?
3. Are the parents in agreement with the arrangement?
4. Has the child/young person been accommodated for a period of 28 days? If not, is the intent to accommodate for a period of 28 days or more?
5. Are the child’s/young person’s parents/persons with parental responsibility living in separate accommodation from the child/young person?

If you think you know a child who is being privately fostered please contact The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) who will deal with enquiries and notifications about private fostering, their e-mail address is or call 0300 126 7000.

Further information about private fostering for practitioners:

View the NCT Private Fostering Policy in the Policies and Procedures Manual. 

Last updated: 12 July 2023

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