After a rise in notifications in Kent, KCC is continuing to raise awareness about private fostering arrangements.
This week 6-13 July, is private fostering week.
Private fostering is when a child under-16 or under-18 with disabilities lives with someone who is not a close relative, for 28 days or more.
Those caring for a child are legally required to notify Kent County Council about these arrangements.
This gives carers access to the advice and support they need to make sure children are well cared for, and kept safe. If you are privately fostering and haven’t notified the local authority, you are breaking the law.
Peter Oakford, KCC Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services, said: “The valuable contributions of private foster carers, parents, local schools, members of the public and networks have contributed to a rise in notifications of private fostering in Kent.
“Most private foster carers do an excellent job, although there is still more work to be done to make sure that KCC is made aware of such arrangements.
“If you are privately fostering, or suspect a child is being privately fostered without notifying the local authority, please get in touch. Without your help, children are left vulnerable and carers go without useful information.”
In Kent, the number of notifications of private fostering arrangements has risen between March 2014 and March 2015 from 56 notifications to 88, an increase of 57% suggesting that such arrangements are more common than people would think.
Despite the rise in notifications, KCC still fears that private fostering is under-reported.
Although the exact number of private fostering arrangements is unknown, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering estimates it is between 15,000 and 20,000 in the UK.
Private fostering is a private arrangement made by the parents for someone who is not a relative (step parent, grandparent, step grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt) to care for their child.
It could be due to parents being ill, going abroad or to prison, a relationship breakdown or perhaps a child being brought to the UK to study English.
No exchange of money needs to take place to make it a private fostering arrangement, although some parents may provide money to the carers.
Anyone who knows a child is being privately fostered should tell the parent or carer to report the arrangement to Kent County Council at least six weeks before it happens or within 48 hours if the arrangement has been made in an emergency.
Referrals can be made by telephone on 03000 41 11 11.
If a professional knows or believes that KCC has not been told of the arrangement, they should call Specialist Children’s Services on the same number.
More information can be found on our private fostering page.