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Looking after somebody else's child

If you are not a close relative

If you are not a close relative and you have arranged with the parents to care for their child for more than 28 days, this is called a private fostering arrangement. Both you and the parents have the responsibility to inform children's social care. More information is available in the private fostering section.

If you are a close relative

You may have chosen to care for a child who is a close relative after making an arrangement with the parents due to difficult family circumstances.

This is a private arrangement of informal family care between you and the parents, the parental responsibility remains with the birth parents and the duration of the arrangement will be subject to their discretion.

You don't need to notify the council and we don't need to be involved in approving or supervising these arrangements.

However you may decide to go further and request to have parental responsibility for the child. To do this you will need to go to court to apply for a legal order.

A legal order such as a Residence Order or a Special Guardianship Order would give you parental responsibility. That would mean you had the legal right to raise the child, and make some important decisions about the child. You could apply for one of these legal orders before the child comes to stay with you, or after the child has been living with you for a while.

You can find out more about looking after a child who is a close relative in the Family Rights Group charity's website.

Adoptive parents and foster carers

If you are looking for information about adoption or fostering please visit the dedicated sections to adoption and fostering in our website.