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Information About Private Fostering


Do you have a child living with you or do you know someone who has a child living them who isn’t a close relative? This could be as the result of a separation, divorce or difficulties at home? Or the child may have come from abroad to study and living with you or a friend?

The Health and Social Care Board together with Health and Social Care Trusts are reaching out to people in Northern Ireland who may be involved in Private Fostering to make them aware of the legal requirements in respect of such arrangements.

Private Fostering is when a child under 16 years of age (or under 18 if they have a disability) is looked after by someone who is not a close relative for longer than 28 days.

Some other examples of these arrangements include:

In circumstances such as these and in the interests of safeguarding children, parents and carers have a legal duty to inform their local Trust of these Private Fostering arrangements. While the majority of children will be well cared for, there may be those who are not. Some children may have been brought here illegally and may be vulnerable to harm or exploitation. Notifying the Trust is about helping to keep children safe and supporting those involved in Private Fostering.

Once parents or carers have informed their local Trust, the Trust will work with the child, the parents and private foster carers to ensure that the best possible arrangements are in place for the child. A social worker will assess the suitability of the carer and other adults living in the home and carry out a police and criminal records checks, they will also assess the suitability and safety of the home.

For further information about private foster caring or how to contact your local Health Trust, visit the Adoption and Fostering website.