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Private fostering

Is someone else looking after your child?

Private fostering is the term used when a parent or primary carer places a child under the age of 16 (or 18, if disabled) in the care of someone else, who is not a close relative or officially approved foster carer, for a period of more than 28 days.

You might be in a private foster care arrangement without realising it.

The Children Act 2004 defines 'relative', in relation to a child, as a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt. They could be a full or half relation and could be related by marriage. The term also includes step-parent. A cohabitee of the mother or father of the child would not qualify as a relative, neither would extended family such as great aunt/uncle or parent's cousins.

We, as a local authority, have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of all privately fostered children.

This information is for parents who will be placing their children, or have placed their children, with private foster carers. The aim is to help you to understand more about the law on private fostering and the role of St Helens Borough Council.