Arranging for someone you know to look after your child

Last updated: 20 January 2020

Private fostering is when you arrange for your child (aged 16 or under) to live with someone you know who is not a close relative or approved carer. For example a friend or neighbour.

A close relative in Scotland is defined as:

  • husband or wife
  • civil partner
  • partner
  • parent or step-parent
  • father-in-law or mother-in-law
  • child or step-child
  • son-in-law or daughter-in-law
  • brother or sister
  • brother-in-law or sister-in-law
  • partner of any of the above

What you need to do

If you want your child to live with someone who is not a close relative or a registered carer for more than 27 days, you must tell your local council.

You should tell them 2 weeks before they start looking after your child. This is to give the council time to check your child will be well looked after.

If your child lives with a close relative, you do not need to tell the local council.

Checks before your child is privately fostered

Your local council will want to check that the private foster carer is able to look after your child.

They'll check with the police and 'referees' (character witnesses for the private carer). They'll also want to check the private foster carer's home to make sure it's suitable.

A person cannot be a private foster carer if they:

  • have been convicted of a crime involving a child
  • had their own child taken into care
  • have been refused permission to run a day nursery or to act as a childminder

When your child is being privately fostered

Someone from your local council will visit regularly to check your child is being cared for. They'll also keep in touch with the parents to offer help and advice.

Your local council can remove your child from a private foster carer at any time if they're worried about your child's safety.

As a parent, you can end the private foster care at any time.

If a child needs to live with you, and you're not their parent, you can apply to become the child's guardian. This means you'll get 'parental responsibilities and rights' for the child.