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Private fostering

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a 'close relative'.

This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more. Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity).

More information about private fostering is available below.

Are you a practitioner?

Be aware of private fostering/children cared for by the wider family or friends

All practitioners have a shared responsibility to be aware, identify and notify private fostering arrangements to Salford Children's Services. This is a legal requirement.

Private fostering is connected with legal requirements in the Children Act 1989. It is a safeguarding matter with deep implications for the welfare of children.

What is private fostering?

Private fostering occurs when children up to the age of 16 (18 if the child has a disability) are being looked after by other than parents, uncles/ aunties, grandparents or siblings for a period of 28 days or longer. This period can be interrupted occasionally and still remains private fostering.

The Children Act 2004 further established a duty to notify these arrangements even before its commencement.

Examples of private fostering can be the result of and include the following:

  • Children living with friends of the family on a long- term basis following family breakdown or a parent’s ill health
  • Children whose parents work unsociable hours making it difficult for them to use day care and therefore the children live outside the family home.
  • Overseas students who are living with a carer or ‘host family’ for 28 days or more
  • Children attending in boarding schools who live with another family during school holidays
  • A teenager under the age of 16 living with friends or in the home of a boyfriend or girlfriend

What is not private fostering?

  • the carer is a close relative.
  • the Children Act (1989) defines a child’s ‘close relative’ as either a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle (birth parent’s brother), aunt (birth parent’s sister), or step-parent.
  • the carer has legal parental responsibility (for example, birth mother, adoptive parent);
  • the carer is an approved foster carer and the placement was made by social services;
  • the placement lasts for less than 28 days.

What are the duties of Salford City Council?

As follows:

  • Identify privately fostered children.
  • Undertake an assessment towards suitability.
  • Monitor and support the arrangement to increase its stability and improve outcomes for privately fostered children.
  • Speak to the parents of the child to make sure they are happy with the arrangements in place.
  • Ensure the welfare of the child.
  • Assist carers to provide appropriate standards of care.
  • Help carers make the arrangement sustainable at all levels.

What support can we provide?

  • We will provide an allocated social worker who meets with the private foster carer to discuss the needs of the child.
  • We will offer support with meeting the child’s education and health needs and planning for the future.
  • We can signpost to a range of local services and offer support in accessing these.
  • We can offer advice and guidance to all parties involved in the arrangement about childcare and other related topics.
  • We will ensure everyone involved in the arrangement is kept informed and is working together on behalf of the child.

Who is your contact for queries or further information?

If you need to inform Children Services of a Private Fostering arrangement please contact the Bridge.  All referrals and requests for support must be completed on the online referral form.

If you need to speak to someone The Bridge Partnership can be contacted on 0161 603 4500, Monday to Friday 8.30am - 4.30pm.  If you need to speak to someone outside these times, please contact the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) on 0161 794 8888. If a child is in immediate danger of being harmed or is home alone, call the police on 999.

For any other queries about private fostering please email:

Private fostering on the Salford City Council website.

Greater Manchester private fostering procedure is in use in Salford.

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