Private fostering

Private fostering occurs when a child up to 16 years of age 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

If any of the below people below are looking after somebody else's child, this is a private fostering arrangement and you need to notify Salford City Council:

  • neighbour
  • friend
  • child's friend's parents
  • non-biological 'aunt' or 'uncle'
  • great aunt or uncle
  • cousin
  • someone looking after a student studying away from home

In all cases of private fostering, the council needs to be notified. This is so that we can make sure the child is safe and provide support to people who are privately fostering through the Salford Private Fostering Link.

You can let us know that you or someone you know is privately fostering by completing the private fostering form. If you're not sure if you or someone you know is fostering, you can also use our quiz.

For more information you can contact the private fostering officer on 0161 779 7860.

Why are some children privately fostered?

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

  • the child's parents may be working or studying abroad
  • the relationship between the child and their parent has broken down and the child is living with a friend's family
  • a child is sent to the UK to study and is living with a host family

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?

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 case 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.

Private fostering is normally recognised as a positive and nurturing response emerging from the community. Salford City Council aims to support it and even encourage it where appropriate.

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.

The private fostering officer will be able to provide advice and support.

If you think you know of someone who is looking after somebody else's child in Salford, you need to contact the private fostering officer at Salford City Council.

All professionals have a legal responsibility to notify the council if they think somebody is being privately fostered.

Call 0161 779 7860.

What happens next?

The private fostering officer will arrange a visit with the carers to discuss private fostering.

They will then look at the suitability of the placement, including finding out how the child feels about it, and carrying out necessary checks. The parents will also be contacted with the aim of enhancing communication.

In most cases, the private fostering officer finds placements to be suitable. However, if the child is found to be at risk or there is not an appropriate level of commitment towards the child's care, the placement will be stopped. The parents will be contacted and urged to take action to safeguard the child.

If the placement has been ongoing for at least three years, a residence order may be possible and the council is currently considering how to support applications.

We'd love to hear from you!

Call 0161 799 1268, send us an email at or complete our online enquiry form below.

Fostering enquiry form

Rate this page