Private fostering

Private fostering for carers

What is private fostering?

If you care, or plan to care for someone else’s child or young person for 28 days or more and you are not a close relative, this is called ‘private fostering’. A close relative is defined within the Children Act 1989 as a grandparent, brother or sister, aunt, or uncle or step-parent by marriage.

Many people don’t realise they are private foster carers when they have made informal arrangements with friends or extended family.

To keep children and young people safe and support families, by law, parents and carers must notify the local authority if they have a private fostering arrangement in place.

There are many reasons why children and you people are privately fostered, these include:

  • Parental ill health.
  • Children or young people from overseas who are sent to this country for education or health care by their birth parents.
  • Children or young people who are living with a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home.
  • Children or young people whose parents work or study long or antisocial hours.
  • Children or young people on school holiday exchanges that last more than 28 days.
  • Children or young people who are on sports or music sponsorships living away from their families.


Why Leeds City Council needs to be involved

Leeds City Council have a legal duty to safeguard the wellbeing of privately fostered children and young people. They check that the arrangements are safe, that the children and young people are well cared for and that their needs are being met.
If you are privately fostering a child / young person or are planning to, then you must notify us immediately, particularly if there are any changes to your arrangements, such as a house move, or someone in the house moves in or out or commits a criminal offence.
It is an offence not to tell the local authority about a private fostering arrangement.


What will Leeds City Council do?

They will work together with the child or young person, the parents and the private foster carers to ensure that the best possible arrangements are in place for the child or young / person.
This includes:

  • Regularly visiting the child / young person and listening to what the child / young person wants.
  • Arranging for a social worker to support the child / young person and carer/s.
  • Providing advice on benefits and other community or local services.
  • Assessing the suitability of the carer/s.
  • Helping to ensure that the child / young person is safe and well cared for and that their cultural needs are being met.
  • Deciding on further action to take if the arrangement is deemed unsuitable.
  • Conducting an annual review of the private fostering arrangement.


What are the expectations of the Private Foster Carer?

  • To provide a safe and caring place for the child / young person to live.
  • To ensure the arrangement of appropriate medical and dental care for the child / young person.
  • To ensure arrangements are made for the child or young person’s regular school attendance and that they receive appropriate educational opportunity to meet their full academic  and social potential.
  • To help the child / young person to keep in touch with their family where this is possible.
  • To work together with the children’s social work service for the benefit of the child or young person.

Private foster carers must also inform the local authority if:

  • They have had a child or young person removed from their care by an Order of the Court, or if their registration as a child-minder or day care provider has been cancelled or refused.
  • The child or young person moves to live elsewhere and the address and contact details of the child or young person’s new carer.
  • A child or young person in their care should die.
  • If the child or young person’s parents change address.
  • If the private foster carer changes address.


Who pays for the care of a child?

Financial responsibility for the child or young person remains with the parent who should arrange to pay the carer for the upkeep of the child or young person. The private foster carer can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits for the child or young person, subject to eligibility. The person receiving Child Benefit should let the Department for Work and Pensions know that the child or young person is to be privately fostered for longer than six weeks.

How to contact Leeds City Council

To notify the local authority about a private fostering arrangement or make further enquiries, please call: 0113 222 4403 or you can e-mail: 
Further information is also available on:
This information can be provided in large print, Braille, audio or a community language, please call: 0113 222 4403.