You are a private foster carer if you look after someone else's child or teenager on a full time basis for more than 28 days and you are not a close relative. Step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts are all classed as close relatives. The child should be under the age of 16 (18 if they have a disability).

The law requires you to tell your local council about any private fostering arrangements:

  • at least six weeks before the arrangement starts
  • within 48 hours of the start of an emergency arrangement

Please let us know using the Private fostering enquiry form.

Examples of private fostering situations:

  • children sent to this country for education or health care by parents overseas
  • children living with a friend's family as a result of parents separating, divorce or arguments at home
  • teenagers living with the family of a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend
  • language school children or young people living with host families

Information for parents and guardians  
Information for young people living away from their parents
Information for carers      
Information for professionals

See also:

Private Fostering report to the Local Safeguarding Children's Board - Nov 2013 
Somebody else’s child web site  

Contact details

To email us, please contact Southampton Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) at mash@southampton.gov.uk

You can also contact us by telephone on 023 8083 3336 – please ask for private fostering.

If you would like any information on this page in a different language or format, complete the private fostering enquiry form shown above.

To help us let others know what a private fostering arrangement is, please print out and distribute these posters.
Document Type Size
Private Fostering poster - Englishpdf197KB
Private Fostering poster - Chinese (Mandarin)pdf157KB
Private Fostering poster - Frenchpdf207KB
Private Fostering poster - Germanpdf206KB
Private Fostering poster - Hindipdf170KB
Private Fostering poster - Polishpdf181KB
Private Fostering poster - Portuguesepdf244KB
Private Fostering poster - Russianpdf215KB
Private Fostering poster - Turkishpdf208KB