Call to find ‘invisible’ children

Published Monday 9 July 2018 at 10:02

A campaign has been launched today in Blackburn with Darwen working with schools and parents to help spot ‘Private Fostering’ arrangements.

The concern is that dozens of children and young people could be living ‘invisibly’ across the borough as ‘Private Fostering’ is not widely understood.

Blackburn with Darwen Council is marking Private Fostering Week (Monday 9- Friday 14 July) by working with schools in the borough to help find local children who are living with someone other than their parents – known as ‘Private Fostering’.

Private Fostering is defined as someone other than a parent, guardian or close relative looking after a child under 16 (under 18 if they have a disability) for more than 28 days. Under the guidelines, close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts.

The most recently available figures suggest there to be very few children in private fostering arrangements in Blackburn with Darwen, but the Council believes there are many more that are not known leaving some children vulnerable.

This was highlighted when eight-year-old Victoria Climbie tragically died at the hands of her private foster carers in February, 2000.

The campaign, which ties in with the national awareness raising week, is targeting professionals such as teachers and health workers who might be aware that children are living with private foster carers. They are being asked to check that the Council is aware of the arrangement as part of their duty to protect children’s welfare.

Private fostering arrangements can occur for many different reasons including a parent’s illness, divorce/separation, difficulties at home or teenagers living with a friend or partner’s family. Foster carers may be looking after a child who is studying in this country or who is a refugee or parents may be going to Haj leaving their children in the care of a friend.

Many of these arrangements work well but it is the Council’s duty to ensure the welfare and safety of children and young people who are privately fostered are being well cared for and ensure it can provide advice and support to private foster carers.

Councillor Maureen Bateson, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said:

We are working directly with schools in the borough as teachers and school staff are likely to notice if there have been any changes.

Many people do not know what private fostering is as the term can be confusing. We need to know of arrangements for children and young people in private foster care to ensure the children’s safety and provide help and support where it is needed.

We would urge people who know a child who is being looked after by someone else other than their parents or have any concerns about a child’s welfare, to get in touch with us. People shouldn’t be worried about doing this, we are here to help.

If anyone knows or is unsure about whether they are privately fostering a child or whether their own children are being privately fostered, please call 01254 666400 for more information and advice.

More details are online.

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