Private fostering

Do you know a child being looked after by someone who is not a close relative?

If you do this is known as private fostering. Private fostering is defined as:

"When a child or young person under 16 years old (or 18 if they have a disability) is looked after by someone who is not a parent, close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility for 28 days or more without the involvement of the City of Wolverhampton Council."

Close relatives are defined as:

  • Brothers and sisters
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Grandparents
  • Step-parents

An arrangement is likely to be private fostering if the child lives with:

  • Cousin
  • Friend
  • Neighbour
  • Host family
  • Great aunt/uncle
  • Great grandparent
  • A divorced step-parent
  • Independent boarding school (if the child remains for more than two weeks during the holidays)
  • Cultural use of aunt or uncle who are no blood relation

If you know of a child who is in a private fostering arrangement you have a legal responsibility to tell the City of Wolverhampton Council. Please call the Central Referral Hub on 01902 555392 to discuss it. Out of office hours, if you think that a child is at immediate risk, please call 01902 552999.


It is not private fostering if the arrangement has been made by the City of Wolverhampton Council or if the person looking after the child is an approved foster carer.

Some of the common reasons why private fostering takes place are:

"When a child or young person under 16 years old (or 18 if they have a disability) is looked after by someone who is not a parent, close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility for 28 days or more without the involvement of the City of Wolverhampton Council."

Examples of private fostering:

  • a child's parents are overseas
  • a child lives with their best friend's parents because they have had an argument with their own parents
  • a young person is living with the family of their boyfriend/girlfriend
  • children are on a cultural exchange which last for more than 27 days
  • a family friend takes on a child as the parents are experiencing a difficult period in their life.
  • Children are in the country for health or education opportunities.
  • Children are at boarding school
  • Refugee children or unaccompanied asylum seekers

If you are looking after someone else's child, know someone who is or your child is being cared for by someone else you must tell us.

The law states that you must tell the City of Wolverhampton Council six weeks before the arrangement starts, or immediately if you haven't already told them. This is to make sure that the child is-

  • Well looked after
  • Receiving a proper education
  • Encouraged to reach their full potential
  • Keeping in touch with people who are important to them
  • Properly supported

Private foster carers carry out an important role and we offer them support and guidance to be able to do this. We can only do this if we know about the arrangement. Many private fostering arrangements remain hidden leaving children vulnerable to abuse and neglect.


If you are interested in finding out more, contact us today or call us on 01902 551133.