Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984

An Act to consolidate certain enactments relating to foster children as they have effect in Scotland. 

The legislation governing the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the provision of the care for children in private fostering arrangements in Scotland is covered by this, the Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984 (as amended - latest version), and The Foster Children (Private Fostering) (Scotland) Regulations 1985.

Section 1 of the Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984 provides that, subject to section 2 of that Act, a child is a foster child if he or she is below the upper limit of the compulsory school age and his or her care is undertaken by a person who is not a relative or guardian. Sections 16 and 17 of the 1984 Act extend the application of the Act to certain other children in the circumstances described in those sections.

Section 2 of the 1984 Act provides for a number of exceptions to section 1. For example, a child is not a foster child while he or she is being looked after by a local authority (section 2(1)).

Section 21 of the Act defines the term “relative”




Reference: In the APA referencing system, Acts of Parliament do not need including in the reference list. On the first mention of the Act, a full citation is given in the text (ie. the name of the Act with date)





Private fostering is where a parent is making an arrangement to have their child cared for by someone who is not an approved foster or kinship carer or guardian of the child and who is not a close relative of the child ( i.e. not a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt whether by blood or by affinity ( i.e. by marriage)), for more than 28 days.

The statutory responsibility for securing and monitoring the welfare of any child in a private fostering arrangement lies with the local authority. It is the duty of every local authority to secure the welfare of children within their area who are foster children (section 3 this Act).

In a private fostering arrangement there will, therefore, be no statutory order in place, children's services involvement, or registered fostering agency involved in placing the child with the other person i.e. the child is not defined as a "looked-after child".

There is, however, a legal obligation on any parent to inform the relevant local authority if a child is to be cared for in a private fostering arrangement at least two weeks prior to the start of the arrangement ( Reg 3 (1)) and there is also a duty on the private foster carers to advise the local authority about any private fostering arrangement within the same timescale except in an emergency ( section 5 of the 1984 Act). If the child is received in an emergency the private foster carer must notify the authority at the earliest opportunity and no later than 1 week after receiving the child.





Acts of parliament are continuously updated (revised) to reflect any amendments that subsequent acts make on the original. The pdf we reproduce here is the original, without amendments, it is the act, as first printed. The following link is the latest revised version;


Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984 - Latest revised version



Crown copyright material is reproduced here under the Open Government Licence for public sector information.

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