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Private fostering

Most children spend some time staying with relatives or friends. Sometimes a temporary arrangement can become more long term and when it does, it may be classed as private fostering.

Private fostering is when a child up to the age of 16 (or 18 if the child has a disability) is placed for more than 28 days in the care of someone who is not a close relative, guardian or someone with parental responsibilities.

If you're involved in this kind of arrangement, the law says that you must notify Middlesbrough Council about it.

For more information, please look at our list of frequently asked questions below.

If you're a social worker looking for more information about private fostering, please download the information for social workers and procedures for social workers documents.

What is meant by a close relative?


A child's close relatives are defined as their parents, step-parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and brothers and sisters of a parent (i.e. aunts and uncles).

What sort of arrangements could be classed as private fostering?


Private fostering situations could involve:

  • Children living with another family because their parents have separated or divorced, or because of arguments at home
  • Children who need looking after while a parent is seriously ill
  • Children whose parents come to study full-time in the UK and who cannot use ordinary day care

How do I know whether an arrangement meets the criteria for private fostering?


You need to think about these questions:

  • Am I looking after a child who is not a close relative?
  • Are they living with me?
  • Is this a full-time arrangement?
  • Will it last for 28 days or more?

If you've answered 'yes' to all of these questions, this is classed as private fostering and you must notify Middlesbrough Council about it.

If you need to check in more detail, use this private fostering flowchart.

Who do I notify about private fostering?


If you're involved in private fostering, or have any concerns about someone who may be a private foster carer, please contact Middlesbrough Multi-agency Children's Hub:

Phone: 01642 726004
Email: MiddlesbroughMACH@middlesbrough.gov.uk
Opening times:
Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 5pm
Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

What does the council do when they are notified about a private fostering arrangement?


A social worker will visit to find out more about the situation and check whether it meets the criteria for private fostering. They'll take some details from the private foster carer and from the child's parent(s). The social worker must be sure that the arrangement meets the needs of the child. They will provide information, advice and support to the carers and the child.

For more details of the council's responsibilities and approach to private fostering, please read the statement on private fostering.