North Yorkshire County Council is campaigning to raise awareness about private fostering so that they can make sure they are aware of every child living in arrangements outside of their immediate family.
Private foster carers are people who look after a child full-time, for more than 28 consecutive days and are not a parent or close relative. Private fostering arrangements are a priority area for the County Council, and they want to ensure they know how many children are looked after in this way so that they can make sure these arrangements are safe and to offer support where this required.
People involved in ‘private’ child care arrangements may be unaware that the council must be notified about the arrangement. There are approximately 10,000 children in England who are privately fostered and studies show that more than 50 per cent of placements are not notified to local councils. Even when they are notified, it is nearly always after the living circumstances have started. It is crucial that they are alerted to private fostering arrangements so they can check that they are suitable for the child and where support can be offered for the family if required.
Once the County Council is aware of these arrangements, a social worker will visit the child, parents and the carer within the same week of being notified and complete an assessment of the private carers with ongoing regular contact being maintained.
County Councillor Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Children’s Services said: “Privately fostered children and young people can be amongst the most vulnerable in the UK. While we do not want to interfere in what is working well, we want to be in a position to provide support and advice and ensure that the private arrangement goes as smoothly as possible.
“In many cases, private foster carers are completely unaware that they have to notify us and this means we are unable to check whether the child is being properly cared for. In North Yorkshire we are now having a major push to find out just how many young people are in private foster care.
“It is vital we have that information and we would urge anyone who is involved in such an arrangement, or who plans to be involved in one in the future, to contact us as soon as possible. In some instances financial help may be available, and we can put people in touch with local support networks for carers”.
For more information on private fostering please visit North Yorkshire County Council’s website at http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/privatefostering