Private fostering is very different from the care of children provided by local councils through approved foster carers for children who are looked after by the local council under the Children Act 1989.
Children under 16 (or 18 if disabled) are classed as privately fostered when they are cared for on a fulltime basis by adults who are not their parents or a close relative (brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or grandparents by birth or marriage) for a period of 28 days or more.
Usually a birth parent chooses and arranges private foster placements, which could take many forms. These include children coming from abroad to access the education and health systems, children living with a friend’s family after separation, divorce or arguments at home, teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend, or people who come to this country to study or work, but antisocial hours make it difficult for them to care for their own children.
Sometimes it is the young person themselves who chooses to live elsewhere and their parents do not object.
There are many reasons why a parent may be unable to look after their child fulltime, such as:
- Being admitted to hospital;
- Going abroad for lengthy periods;
- A breakdown in relationship between a parent and young person.