Could you be privately fostering?

Are you looking after a child under 16 as a favour to a friend?

Does your son or daughter’s girlfriend or boyfriend live with you?

There are many instances where a child or young person under age 16 (or 18 if disabled) can be living away from their parents or normal home. If this is on an ad hoc, short term basis this is fine but if the arrangements go on for a period of 28 days or more, this is known as private fostering and if you become aware of this you need to notify your local authority.

Cllr Lin Hazell, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services explained: “This week is national Private Fostering Week and we are aiming to raise awareness of what private fostering is.

“Many people do not know that they need to notify us if they are looking after someone else’s child. It can often be something that is informally arranged or just happens over time.

“But as the local authority, we have a legal responsibility to check that the child or young person is being well looked after and so it is of utmost importance that we are informed. It’s not that we are going to charge in and change things or create disruption, we just have to ensure the arrangements are formalised to check the child’s welfare is top priority and we can offer help and advice to carers and parents over any issues or concerns they may have.”

Private fostering can take on many forms and it may not even occur to you that it is what you are doing. This year Aylesbury Grammar School hosted a group of Chinese students on an exchange trip. The young people visit for 10 weeks and stay with a host family during this time. Students and host families have said they have enjoyed and gained from the experience. As the length of stay is over 28 days, the host families are put in touch with the council.

Aylesbury couple Steve and Jane have been hosting Chinese students for 10 years and have loved it. Steve explained: “My wife and I have worked for 10 years hosting Chinese students. We have found this experience very rewarding. The students live with us as part of the family, and are encouraged to partake in family life. We teach them about our way of living which is very different for them, but they enjoy learning. They generally like most of our food; I also encourage them to cook Chinese meals for us. The Chinese students are very studious, and do spend a lot of time studying in their rooms. I would recommend the hosting experience.”

If you or someone you know is or could be privately fostering please contact our First Step Team via telephone on 0800 160 1900 or email:

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