Private fostering

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (18 if disabled) lives with someone who is not a close relative (for example a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling or step-parent) for 28 days or more in a year. It's very different from the care of children formally provided by local councils through approved foster carers.

Privately fostered children and young people may:

  • have parents living or working abroad
  • be sent to the UK to study at state or language schools
  • live with another family because they have problems at home.
  • be estranged from their own family
  • be at independent schools and not returning home during school holidays

Children who are on weekend or holiday visits do not count as being privately fostered.

We need to know

It is the law that we (as a local authority) know about all children in Kent who are being privately fostered (or who are about to be). We have a duty both to make sure the child is safe and that the private foster carer has support (both financial and practical). If you are:

  • the parent or carer of the child being privately fostered
  • the person privately fostering someone else's child
  • a professional working with the child or family
  • a member of the public who notices suspected private fostering

you should tell us immediately by calling us on 03000 41 11 11.

Our leaflets will tell you more about private fostering and what your responsibilities are.