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Private Fostering

What is Private Fostering?

A private fostering arrangement is one that is made privately by a parent (that is to say without the involvement of a local authority) for the care of a child under the age of 16 (under 18, if the child is disabled) with the intention that it should last for 28 days or more. Private foster carers may be from the extended family such as a cousin or a great aunt, or they may be a family friend.

Birth parents and the private foster carer must notify the local authority of the arrangement six weeks before the placement starts and within 48 hours of the placement taking place. It is an offence not to do so.

What should professionals do?

If you know of a child who is privately fostered you should not ignore this. It is a legal requirement that the local council is informed. If it is appropriate to do so, speak to the parent or carer before contacting your local authority.

You can notify the local authority by contacting the MASH: 01403 229900 MASH@westsussex.gov.uk

It is an offence not to notify the local council of any Private Fostering arrangement. If you are unsure, please seek advice from West Sussex County Council.

What will the local authority do?

All councils are legally required to make certain that all children who are privately fostered are being cared for by a suitable carer in an appropriate environment. This is important to make sure the child is safe and well cared for.

When you notify the Council of a private fostering arrangement they will:

  • assess the suitability of the private foster carer
  • regularly visit the private foster carer and child at home to ensure the arrangement is working and meeting the child’s needs
  • speak to the parents of the child and make sure they are happy with the arrangements in place
  • provide support if needed

Further information

For further information see the West Sussex County Council Private Fostering pages