Private fostering

Private fostering occurs when a child up to 16 years of age (or up to the age of 18 if they have a disability) is living and looked after by someone outside of their close family for 28 days (four weeks) or more. It means looking after somebody else's child.

Private fostering does not include being cared for by anyone who already has parental responsibility, such as a Special Guardianship order.

If a child is looked after by any of the people below, this is not private fostering:

  • Biological parents or step parents
  • Biological aunts and uncles
  • Half or full siblings
  • Biological or step grandparents

Why are some children privately fostered?

There are many reasons why a child may be living with a private foster carer, for example:

  • Children living with friends of the family on a long- term basis following family breakdown or a parent’s ill health.
  • Children whose parents work unsociable hours making it difficult for them to use day care and therefore the children live outside the family home.
  • Overseas students who are living with a carer or ‘host family’ for 28 days or more.
  • Children attending in boarding schools who live with another family during school holidays.
  • A teenager under the age of 16 living with friends or in the home of a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Private fostering is very different from a child being cared for by a council foster carer. It is an agreement between the child's parents and a private foster carer to look after their child for 28 days (four weeks) or more.

Why do you need to notify the council?

We are here to help. Every single child in the UK needs to be safeguarded by someone with the legal power to take decisions for them. Someone with parental responsibility should care and provide for each child that lives in the UK. In the case of private fostering, there is a gap between the person who cares for the child and the person who holds the legal duty to safeguard the child.

The aim of the council is to ensure that this gap in responsibility does not prevent the child receiving acceptable care.

Every circumstance of private fostering is different, so the council works with carers to empower them and ensure that the focus is on the welfare of the child.

We want to continue to encourage Private Fostering as ‘the right’ level of care for our children and young people. We want to make sure that we can help in getting the best outcomes together.

What you need to do?

You need to get in touch as soon as you are aware of the intention for someone to care for somebody else's child for at least four weeks. You must also contact us immediately if the placement is already underway.

If you are a parent or a foster carer arranging for a child to be fostered privately, you must notify Salford City Council six weeks prior to the child being fostered. If the child is to be fostered earlier than this you must inform Salford City Council straight away.

You must contact Children Services at The Bridge if you are aware of a Private Fostering arrangement or if one is due to start. All referrals and requests for support must be completed on the online referral form. If you need to speak to someone The Bridge Partnership can be contacted on 0161 603 4500, Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm. If you need to speak to someone outside these times, please contact the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) on 0161 794 8888. If a child is in immediate danger of being harmed or is home alone, call the police on 999.  

For any problems related to the portal contact 

For any other queries about private fostering please email:

What happens next?

A practitioner from Children's Social Care will carry out an assessment of the circumstances to see:

  • How the child is doing
  • How you and the child feel about the arrangements
  • How we can support adult relationships around the child
  • Whether you are getting all resources you are entitled to
  • Whether you would need support or advice in any area

Salford Children's Services are here to support you in how you care for the child by providing advice and support to apply for services.

The aim is to support the arrangements and assist you in your duties of care towards the child.

Please contact the officer and they will get back to you as soon as possible. 

If you do have any further queries there is a Private Fostering Officer that can be contacted on or telephone 0161 603 4350.

This page was last updated on 7 August 2023

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