People looking after a child they are not related to or who know someone who is are urged to contact Kent County Council (KCC) this Private Fostering Week (July 8 – 14).
Private fostering arrangements are when people look after children or teenagers under 18 full-time for 28 days or more and who are not a parent or close relatives such as a step-parent, grandparent, sibling, uncle or aunt.
Last year KCC was notified of 87 private fostering arrangements but the true number is believed to be much higher as not all carers realise they need to inform the council.
Last year the number of notifications received by KCC was at a ten-year high with particularly large numbers in Canterbury and Swale districts due to several language schools in these areas.
Across the UK it’s estimated there could be as many as 20,000 unnotified private fostering arrangements.
Examples of private fostering arrangements include:
- Children who stay with families while going to a school away from their home
- Young people who stay with friends’ families because of family tensions
- Children cared for by their parent’s partners while their parent is in hospital or prison
Roger Gough, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “Kent County Council is deeply concerned about the potentially large number of people looking after a child who is not their own and who haven’t told social services.
“The majority of private fostering arrangements provide good care but a number of children need extra support or in the most serious cases, could be in danger.
“Therefore, it is important we are aware so trained social workers can support not only the child but the carers as well.”
The duty for private foster carers to notify the local authority extends from the Children Act 1989 which sets out the duty for private foster carers, parents, the local authority and professionals in contact with families to safeguarding children in private fostering arrangements.
When KCC becomes aware of private fostering, the child is assigned a social worker who visits regularly to check on their welfare and offer support to the carer.
To notify Kent County Council of a private fostering arrangement, call 03000 41 11 11. Alternatively, visit https://www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/adoption-and-fostering/private-fostering.
If a teacher or other professional believes KCC has not been told of the arrangement, they should call the same number.