Not living with your parents

If you are under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) and your parents or carers have arranged for you to live with someone else for more than 28 days, you might be privately fostered.


Below are some examples of situations that could lead to private fostering arrangements:

  • Children and young people living apart from their families
  • Minority ethnic children with parents working or studying in the UK
  • Children with parents overseas
  • Children living with host families for a variety of reasons
  • Children on holiday exchange

If you are being cared for and looked after by a grandparent, one of your older brothers or sisters, step-mum or step-dad, or one of your mum or dad's brothers or sisters, then you are not privately fostered. You however might be in a 'Kinship Care placement'. 

There are many other and different reasons why you might not be living with your mum or dad. It might be that your family needs help because someone is ill, or because living with your own family just wasn't working out because of arguments, or because people are worried about your safety. You might then be looked after by the local authority and placed in a foster home or children's home. 

I think I'm being privately fostered 

If you think you might be a privately fostered child, you should tell someone, for example a teacher, school nurse, doctor, religious leader, social worker, or your carer, who should then tell the local Council. You could also tell the Council yourself that you think you are being privately fostered.

It is the law that the local Council should be told about all private foster care arrangements, so that they can make sure that those children and young people who are being privately fostered are being looked after properly.

The law says that the Council has to be told at least six weeks before you are going to be looked after by a private foster carer. If you become privately fostered in an emergency, then the Council should be informed within 48 hours that you are living with your new carers.

Children's Services at the Council will work with your carers to make sure you receive the best care. Occasionally you will be visited by a social worker to see how things are going. Advice and support may be offered to you and your carers if any extra help is needed. See the Need to talk to someone page.