Published September 4, 2017 at 12:28
A renewed appeal has been launched to highlight the issue of private fostering – a little known informal arrangement where a child lives with somebody else other than their parents or immediate family.
Private fostering is the term used to describe an informal arrangement where a child under 16 lives with somebody else other than their parents or immediate family for 28 days or more.
Private fostering can happen for all sorts of reasons, from young people going to stay with friends when they have fallen out with their parents or their parents have split up, gone abroad or are ill to children being sent over to the UK for education or healthcare by parents who live overseas.
Cllr Maureen Bateson, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Services, said:
The term private fostering can be confusing for people who assume it’s about mainstream fostering which this is not and we need to help people understand the difference.
We need to know where children and young people are living so that we can make sure their needs are being met and that they are being cared for in a safe and secure environment.
It’s also important so that we can support families, and in some instances help them access benefits and finances that they might be entitled to when they are looking after someone else’s child.
The law says families must tell councils about private fostering arrangements – but recorded cases have always been low because so few people are aware of it.
In Blackburn with Darwen the highest recording of private fostering arrangements in a 12 month period was five cases– but the Council believes that there will be many more children and teenagers living in these circumstances.
When could Private Fostering happen?
- When parents travel abroad and leave their child with a distant relative r family friend – after 28 days this is classed as Private Fostering
- When children or young people from abroad attend language schools in the UK and live with a host family – after 28 days this is Private Fostering
- When children or young people live with a friend’s family or non-close relative as a result of parental separation, death, illness of a parent, or family conflict – after 28 days this is Private Fostering.
If you are looking after someone else’s child, planning to in the future, or if you are considering asking someone else to look after your child for more than 28 days, please contact us on: (01254) 666400 or email CYPReferrals@blackburn.gov.uk