The number of people notifying Kent County Council (KCC) about private fostering arrangements has reached a ten-year high.
Private foster carers are people who look after a child under 16 (or under 18 with disabilities) full-time for 28 consecutive days or more and are not a parent or close relative.
Those planning to care or already caring for a child are required by law to notify Kent County Council about these arrangements so checks can be made to ensure the child is safe and well looked after.
In the last financial year, 94 notifications were received across the county. The exact number of private fostering arrangements is not known and KCC is concerned they could be under-reported due to carers not knowing it is necessary to inform the council.
As part of Private Fostering Week, running between 9-13 July, KCC will be raising awareness within Kent communities and partner organisations to ensure any new private fostering arrangements are identified and notified.
Roger Gough, cabinet member for children, young people and education, said: “While this year’s record number of private fostering notifications is a promising sign of an increased public understanding of the issue, we urge anyone privately fostering or who knows someone who is to contact Kent County Council.
“Many private foster carers do an excellent job. We want to be in a position to provide support, advice and to ensure all children are safe and well cared for.”
Children can be privately fostered for many reasons, such as parental illness, the imprisonment of a parent, the breakdown of a relationship or a child being brought to the UK to study.
No exchange of money needs to take place to make it a private fostering arrangement, although some parents or language schools may provide financial support 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.
After a notification, a social worker will undertake an assessment of the placement to ensure the child will receive safe and appropriate care.
Access to a social worker means the child will have an independent adult to talk to and gives carers access to the advice and support they require to make sure they are able to meet the needs of the children in their care.
If a professional or member of the public believes a child is being privately fostered and the arrangement is yet to be notified to Kent County Council they can telephone 03000 411111.
More information can be found on KCC’s private fostering page: http://www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/adoption-and-fostering/private-fostering
For further information about the Kent County Council Communications Office contact David Gazet on 03000 422589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.