Many people find themselves looking after someone else's child without realising they may be involved in private fostering.

Private fostering is when a child or young person under 16 years old (or 18 if they have a disability) is looked after for a period of 28 days or more by someone who is not a close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility. Close relatives include parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

People become private foster carers for all sorts of reasons. Private foster carers can be a friend of the child’s family, or be someone who is willing to care for the child of a family they do not know.

Common situations include:

  • children and young people living apart from their families
  • children with parents overseas
  • children living with host families for a variety of reasons
  •  children on holiday exchanges which last more than 27 days.

By law, you need to tell your local local authority if you are thinking of placing your child into private fostering or if you are looking after someone else’s child.

The council has a duty to ensure that the arrangements are suitable for the child and that the child is safe. They will assess the private foster family including health checks and accommodation checks.

People involved in private fostering must make contact in the following timescales:

  • If the child is not yet living with private foster carers – six weeks beforehand
  • If the child moves in with private foster carers in less than six weeks – immediately
  • If the child is already living with private foster carers – immediately

Devon County Council or Torbay Council must be told about all private fostering situations. The child’s parents, private foster carer and anyone else involved in the arrangement are legally required to inform the local council.

Any professionals who come across a private fostering arrangement also have a duty to notify the council if they do not believe this has already been done.


If you think you might be involved in a private fostering arrangement in Devon, phone 0845 155 1013 or email ku.vo1548008710g.nov1548008710ed@hs1548008710am1548008710. You can read more about private fostering from Devon County Council here.


If you think you might be involved in a private fostering arrangement in Torbay, click download the correct forms below or visit the Torbay website for further information. You can also call 01803 208100 or email  Âku.1548008710vog.y1548008710abrot1548008710@eciv1548008710reser1548008710acret1548008710sof1548008710

Private Fostering Leaflet