Looking after somebody else’s child (Private Fostering)

Are you looking after somebody else’s child or do you know someone who is?

  • Is it for 28 days or more?
  • Is the child under 16, or under 18 if disabled?
  • Not living with a close relative? (Close relatives include parents, legal guardians, grandparents, stepparents through marriage, aunts and uncles BUT NOT great aunts and uncles, cousins or family friends).
  • Was the arrangement made privately and not through the local authority?

If you answered YES to all four, then the arrangement is called Private Fostering and by law Cheshire West Council must be informed. Here’s a useful Private fostering Quick Guide

Why do the council need to be told?

Children are cared for by other people for lots of different reasons. The Council has to make sure that those children are safe and well cared for; and they need to provide support to the people looking after that child. You can let us know that you or someone you know is privately fostering by contacting the Council Children’s Services on 0300 123 7047. If you are not sure just give us a call to discuss the circumstances. If you are a professional you must notify Children’s Services that a child is being Privately Fostered by completing the Multi-Agency Referral Form (MARF)

What do I need to do?

Whether you are the child’s parent; the person who is going to care for the child or a professional  – you need to get in touch as soon as you become aware of the intention for a child to be cared for by somebody else for at least four weeks.

  • Tell us at least six weeks before the child moves
  • If plans are made less than six weeks before or the child is already living with other carers, please tell us immediately

All professionals have a legal responsibility to notify the council if they think somebody is being privately fostered. Call 0300 123 7047 or complete a Multi-Agency Referral Form (MARF)

Why are some children privately fostered?

There are many reasons why a child may be living with a private foster carer, for example:

  • A teenager who isn’t getting on with their parents and goes to live with a friend’s family
  • Children living with host families for a variety of reasons e.g. attending a language school or sporting academy, or on exchange trips.
  • Children who need to be cared for away from home due to their parent’s ill health.
  • The child’s parents may be working or studying abroad.

Private fostering is very different from a child being cared for by a council foster carer. It is an agreement between the child’s parents and a private foster carer to look after their child for 28 days (four weeks) or more.