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Your Borough Of Poole

Private Fostering

What is Private Fostering?

The Children Act 1989 Section 66 says you are in a private fostering arrangement if:

  • You provide full time care and accommodation to a child under the age of 16 (or 18 if the child has a recognised disability)
  • AND you are not their parent, legal guardian or relative
  • AND you intend to provide (or have already provided) this care for more than 28 days.

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The Children Act defines ‘relative’ in relation to a child as a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt. They could be a full or half relation, and could be related by marriage or civil partnership. The term also includes a step-parent. A person cohabiting with the mother or father would not qualify as a relative, neither would extended family such as great aunt or uncle or parent’s cousins.

We must be informed of Private Fostering arrangements. Our contact details are on the right hand side of this page. Failure to notify us of a private fostering arrangement is an offence.

Private fostering is a private arrangement between parent and carer. In these circumstances the child is not "looked after" by the local council under the Children Act 1989.

Private Fostering Situations

Private fostering situations could involve, for example:

  • Children sent to this country for education or health care by birth parents living overseas
  • Children living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, parental illness or family breakdown
  • Teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Children whose parents’ study or work involves unsociable hours which make it difficult for them to use ordinary day care or after school care

Keeping us informed

If you live in the Borough and look after a child or children in any of the above situations the law says you must inform us. Our contact details are on the right hand side of this page. If you are the parent of a child living with private foster carers in Poole you must ensure we are aware.

You must inform us of the arrangement:

  • 6 weeks in advance of a planned arrangement
  • within 48 hours of the child’s arrival in an emergency arrangement or,
  • as soon as you know about the requirement.

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You are required to let us know if your circumstances change. You must also let us know when the placement comes to an end and also let us know the name and address of the person who has taken over care of the child.

If you think that a child is being privately fostered please call us on 01202 735046 and ask for the duty team, or inform us by email or post. Our contact details are on the right of this page.

If you wish to discuss any of these issues please contact one of our duty social workers. Our contact details are on the right of this page.

Assessment and Support

Within 7 days of the arrangement starting or of notification of an existing placement a social worker will visit the private foster carers and the child. They will contact the child’s parents and make an initial assessment to ensure the child is safe.

We will then complete a fuller assessment with the private foster carer, the child and the parents to ensure that the child will be cared for in a safe and suitable environment.

We will check your criminal records, local authority and health records and those of the rest of your household. This is to ensure that no one who has access to the child is known to or likely to present a danger to them. Criminal convictions relating to violence, child abduction and offences of a sexual nature disqualify individuals from caring for children. Any person previously "disqualified from caring for children" will also be prohibited from privately fostering.

If an arrangement is assessed as unsuitable, we will work with the parents to ensure the child is safe. We can remove a child from a private fostering arrangement if there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.

We will make regular visits to the child throughout the arrangement. We will observe the standard of care during the placement and if the child needs additional support services a plan will be drawn up to meet these needs.

We will offer support and advice to the private foster carers and the parents.

If the private foster carers, the child or the parents have special needs relating to disability, cultural or ethnic background, language or communication or any other minority issue, we will ensure that these needs are addressed sensitively and in an anti-discriminatory way.

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Further Information

For additional information try these organisations:

Related pages

Contact us

Opening Hours


01202 735046

Text Relay
18001 01202 735046

Children & Young Peoples Social Care
14a Commercial Road Poole
BH14 0JW