Wiltshire Council is asking people to let them know if they think a child in their community is being cared for by someone else who is not a direct relative, so they can be aware of the support and help available. The call to action is part of Private Fostering Week (3 – 7 July), which aims to reduce the number of children in un-notified private fostering arrangements in England. If a child aged 16 or under (or under 18 with disabilities) is cared for by someone other than a close family member (parent, step-parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle) for more than 28 days, then they are deemed to be in private foster care. Private foster care can be a very positive experience, but some children may be in a vulnerable position. Private fostering is arranged between parents and the private foster carer, and legally the parent and carer must notify the local authority so they can ensure the child is being properly cared for and can provide support where needed. Children become privately fostered for many reasons. They can include teenagers living elsewhere because of a family breakdown, cultural exchange students, a child from overseas living with a host family while attending school, or overseas students at boarding school who stay with host families during the holidays, or any child whose parents have made a private arrangement for them to be cared for by somebody else. Wiltshire Council is particularly asking people who work with children to be aware of private fostering arrangements among the children and families they work with, and to notify the council – although everybody has a part to play. Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children, said: “There is a wide range of help and advice available for people who are privately fostering so they can be supported as they take on this important task of ensuring the child is safe and well cared for.
“We all have a role to play in keeping our children safe and we are asking people to let us know if they hear about a child who is privately fostered. Some people may not realise they are in a private fostering arrangement, but if they are caring for someone else’s child for more than 28 days then they should inform Wiltshire Council.” There will be an information stand in the Atrium at County Hall in Trowbridge during the week and Wiltshire Council has sent information to schools and churches to share with their communities.
To notify Wiltshire Council of a private fostering arrangement, contact the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0300 456 0108 who will advise on the support and advice available or email firstname.lastname@example.org For more information visit: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/fostering-private-fostering or www.somebodyelseschild.org.uk