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Most children spend some time staying with friends and relatives at some time during their childhood, however, for some children these arrangements can be longer term.

If a child under 16 years (or under 18 years if they are disabled) stays with people who are not related to them for 28 days or more, this is known as a private fostering arrangement and special rules apply. Our private fostering policy is attached to this page.

Private fostering is the term used to describe an arrangement made privately (that is without the involvement of the local authority) between a child's parents and a carer of their choice.

A child is considered to be in private foster care if they are in the full time care of someone who is not directly related, nor is a legal guardian, for a total of 28 days or longer.

The period of 28 days does not have to be continuous. If, for example, a child stays regularly with a school friends family and this arrangement adds up to 28 days or longer, after which he or she returns home to the full-time care of their parents, then this would not be a private fostering arrangement.

However, if a child is cared for by a non-relative or legal guardian but returns to the parents at weekends, then this is a private fostering arrangement.

There are duties to know about and report what you think is a private fostering arrangement so that social care can make an assessment to ensure the person looking after that child or young person is promoting their welfare and safety.

Private fostering elearning module

A private fostering e-learning module is available. This should take about 20 minutes to complete and will provide you with all you need to know to help you in schools and respond to a possible private fostering arrangement.

Please encourage your child protection designated lead and any other relevant professionals in your school to complete this.

After completing the module, you can print a certificate and it is advised you add this to your schools safeguarding portfolio.

Find out more about private fostering.

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