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Do you look after someone else’s child?

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Children in foster care fall into two main groups: those looked after by the local authority; and those fostered privately.

Private foster care occurs when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is looked after for more than 28 days by an adult who is not a relative or someone with parental responsibility for them, by a private arrangement between their parent and a carer.

Private fostering situations could involve:

  • children sent to this country for education or health care by birth parents living overseas
  • children living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home or any other reason
  • teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • people whose work involves unsocial hours which makes it difficult to use ordinary day care
  • children who, for educational reasons, stay with friends or neighbours when their parents move.

If you are looking after a child or children in any of these situations, you should read this leaflet. It will help you understand what you must do as a private foster carer.