Private fostering is the term used when someone who is not a parent or a 'close relative' (eg. great aunt, cousin, mum's friend or a neighbour) is looking after a child or young person under the age of 16 (under 18 if they are disabled) for 28 days or more in their own home. It also covers children who stay at a residential school for more than two weeks of the school holidays.
A relative is defined in the Children Act 1989 as a grandparent, uncle or aunt (whether by full-blood, half-blood or by marriage or civil partnership), sibling or step-parent.
Common situations in which children are privately fostered include:
- Children with parents or families overseas
- Children with parents working or studying in the UK
- Asylum seekers and refugees
- Trafficked children
- Local children living apart from their families
- Adolescents and teenagers
- Children attending language schools
- Children at independent boarding schools who do not return home for holidays
- Children brought in from abroad with a view to adoption