By Richard Vernalls
March 22, 2011
PEOPLE who look after their friends’ children may be breaking the law if they do not tell care officials.
If a young person stays with anyone other than their parents, close relatives or parental guardian for 28 days or more then Worcestershire County Council must be told where they will be staying.
Despite private fostering often being an informal arrangement, parents and carers are required by law to notify the county council of where the child or young person is going to live.
The rules apply to anyone aged 16 or under (18 if disabled) and includes people such as teenagers who are living at a friend’s home because of problems at their own home, or exchange students from abroad.
There is no exact figure of how many children are privately fostered but in 2001 the Department of Health estimated there could be as many as 10,000 in England and Wales.
It is feared some of these ‘invisible’ children could be at risk of abuse or become victims of trafficking.
In 2010, County Hall was given 34 notifications of fostering arrangements.
The British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) and the county council are teaming up to raise awareness in the Somebody Else’s Child campaign about the responsibilities of parents who are often unaware they may be breaking the law. Councillor Liz Eyre, the council’s children and young people chief, said: “It’s vital we are notified of these private arrangements before they take place so we are able to ensure that children being privately fostered are being properly cared for.
“Everybody in Worcestershire has a role to play in keeping our children safe whether they are a teacher, youth worker or neighbour.
“Let us know immediately about a child who is going to be or is being privately fostered so we can make sure they are being kept safe.”
Families offering a private fostering arrangement or anyone who believes they are aware of a private fostering arrangement should call the county council on 0845 607 2000 or e-mail email@example.com For more details visit worcestershire.gov.uk/privatefostering or privatefostering.org.uk