Private fostering: Are you looking after somebody else’s child?

Many people know about general fostering and adoption but, as part of our ongoing awareness campaign, Hackney Council is encouraging people to let us know about private fostering arrangements.

It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 children in Great Britain who are being privately fostered. But, despite the fact that there is a legal requirement for the local authority to be notified, many private fostering arrangements go unreported.

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for and living with someone who is not their parent, guardian or a close relative (step parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts) for more than 28 days. The person may be a more distant relative, a friend or a neighbour and this is a private arrangement made between the parent and carer.

There may be any number of reasons why this situation occurs, but usually it happens when parents feel it is best for their child to be cared for temporarily by someone else, for example during a family crisis, or where an adolescent is living with friends or neighbours.

In Hackney, it’s important we know that all children are looked after and well cared for.

Councillor Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “The crucial issue is that children are safe, which is why we are highlighting the potential vulnerability of those living in private fostering arrangements and need to hear from the people making these arrangements. Private foster carers are also obliged to tell us, but many don’t know that.”

If you intend to foster a child privately, or are a parent making the arrangement please inform the Council, ideally, six weeks before it begins or within 48 hours if it’s an emergency arrangement. You can still tell us even if the arrangement is already in place.

The Council s Access and Assessment First Response team will arrange to visit the private foster carer to make sure the arrangements made by the child s parent/s are suitable. This may be followed up with regular visits from social care staff to monitor the welfare of the child/ren.

If you know of a child being privately fostered please don’t ignore it. It is likely that everything is fine, but it is a legal requirement that the parent/carer informs the Council. If appropriate speak to the parent or carer. Alternatively you can contact Hackney’s First Response team on 020 8356 5114/5116.

If you would like to know more about Private Fostering please visit: or