Private fostering

Private fostering is when a child or young person aged under 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled), is cared for and provided with accommodation for 28 days or more by an adult who is not a close relative.

A close relative is an aunt, uncle, step-parent, grandparent or sibling, but not a cousin, grand aunt/uncle or a family friend.

From 1 July 2005, the government introduced a legislation and guidance on private fostering. Parents have a responsibility to ensure that their child is in a suitable and safe private fostering arrangement. Parents and carers have a legal duty to tell your local council at least six weeks before the arrangement is due to start.

If the arrangement is due to start within six weeks or is already in place, then you must tell us immediately.

The law states that you must tell us of a private fostering arrangement within the timescales outlined above. This information will help us to ensure that the child is well looked after and does not come to any harm. Failure to inform the council may result in legal proceedings taking place.

There are many private fostering situations. These can include:

  • children or young people who are sent to this country for education or health care by their birth parents from overseas
  • children or young people whose parents are from overseas and who work or study long and/or antisocial hours
  • children or young people who are living with a friend's family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home
  • children or young people living with their partner's family.

The council has a legal duty to ensure that any child or young person living in Tower Hamlets is in a suitable and safe private fostering arrangement. We will make regular visits to your child and his/her private foster carer. The team also provides help and advice where necessary.

It is an offence not to notify the council of a private fostering arrangement.

If you are aware of a child or young person who may be in a private fostering arrangement or who may be potentially be placed in a private fostering arrangement, you should contact us immediately.