Many people provide essential and valuable care for someone else’s child for a while, and for all different reasons. Sometimes this care is called private foster care and there are steps you and the council are legally required to take, including an assessment of how the child’s needs will be met.

Watch the video to find out what private foster care is and what you might need to do if you are providing private foster care or your child is being cared for.

When looking after someone else’s child becomes private foster care

You are a private foster carer if you are caring, or about to care for someone else’s child:
  • Who is aged under 16 (or 18 if the child has a disability)
  • And are doing so for more than 28 consecutive days
  • And you are not a close family member (grandparent, aunt or uncle, adult brother, or sister)
  • And you do not have legal parental responsibility, a residence order, or a special guardianship order. 
Examples of private foster care:
  • Children living with a friend’s family because of difficulties at home
  • Teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Children living with a parent’s unmarried partner when the parent leaves the home permanently or temporarily for more than 28 consecutive days (for example is imprisoned or hospitalised)
  • Host families looking after children while they attend a language school
  • Children sent to this country for education or healthcare by parents living abroad
  • Children staying with a distant relative (e.g. great aunt/uncle or great grandparent, step grandparents, cousin) when their parents go abroad for an extended visit

You must tell us if you are providing or about to provide private foster care, or if your child is to be in private foster care. Read the steps to private foster care.

Tell us you are providing or about to provide private foster care on 01803 208100

Financial arrangements

Private foster care is a private arrangement between you and the child’s parent, or the person with parental responsibility or the school/agency if you are a host family. Financial arrangements should be made with them.

You may be able to claim benefits such as Child Benefit, Tax Credits and Income Support.

Support available

The allocated social worker will visit every six weeks in the first year and can be contacted if you need advice or support. All local services for children in your area are available to children who are privately fostered. Please visit our Family Information Service page and speak to the child’s allocated social worker for more information on what support is available in the community.

Concerns about a child or young person living in Torbay

If you have any concerns about a child or young person living in Torbay and feel that they may need protection or safeguarding, call Torbay Mash on 01803 208100 9am to 5.00pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4.30pm on Friday.

For assistance outside of these hours including weekends and bank holidays call the Emergency Duty Service on 0300 4564876.