Information for private foster carers

Southampton Children’s Services has a legal duty to make sure that the welfare of all privately fostered children is safeguarded and promoted. We offer advice and support to parents, private foster carers, and the child who is privately fostered.

If you are volunteering or being asked to care for a child or young person informally, this page will help you understand the law surrounding private fostering.

Things to consider about private fostering

A private carer is someone who is looking after someone else’s (not a close relative’s) child or teenager on a full-time basis for more than 28 days. Stepparents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts are all classed as close relatives.

The child should be under 16 years old (18 if they have a disability).

If you’re accepting the care of someone else’s child, please make sure you understand exactly why the parent has asked you to enter an informal arrangement.

It is important to find out as much information about the child as possible so you can meet their needs appropriately. Ask the parent/s about the child’s health, education, routines, and hobbies.

What are some examples of private fostering?

Some examples of private fostering are situations you may not consider out of the ordinary, such as:

  • Children living with a friend’s family because of parents separating, divorce or arguments at home
  • Teenagers living with the family of a friend or partner
  • Children sent to this country for education or health care by parents overseas
  • Language school children or young people living with host families

When do I need to inform the council?

You are required by law to tell your local council about any private fostering arrangements either:

  • At least six weeks before the arrangement starts
  • Within 48 hours of the start of an emergency arrangement

If the arrangement has already started, please notify Southampton Children and Families Service immediately.

When it is agreed that the arrangement will end, it is the private foster carer’s responsibility to notify Children’s Services within 48 hours of the child leaving their care. You need to supply information about the child’s new address and carer’s details.

How to notify us

You will need to complete the online form:


Before you fill in this form

You won't be able to save this form to complete later, so please allow yourself a couple of minutes to fill in the form.

Notify us of a private fostering arrangement

What happens next?

When we are made aware of a private fostering arrangement, a social worker will visit the child or young person, the private foster carer, and the child’s parents. Relevant safeguarding checks will be carried out with the carers such as Disclosure and Barring Service checks for those 18 years and over who live at the property and/or visit the home on a regular basis. We will talk with you about an agreed plan, so that the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 are complied with during the child's stay. The social worker will need to complete a private fostering assessment.

If you are unsure about anything regarding your private fostering arrangement or have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch using the contact details below:

Children’s Resource Service (CRS) contact details


Telephone: 023 8083 3004

Where can I find more information?

We have a range of information for people involved in all levels of private fostering:

You can fill in our online form to find out more about private fostering:


Before you fill in this form

You won't be able to save this form to complete later, so please allow yourself a couple of minutes to fill in the form.

Request information on private fostering

Or contact us by:

Email: (Use the link or enter the subject line ‘Private fostering’).

Telephone: 020 8083 2802 (ask for ‘Private fostering’).