A campaign to raise awareness about private fostering has been launched by Hackney Council, which is urging local people to let them know if they are ‘caring for someone else’s child’.
The borough is highlighting the potential vulnerability of children living in private fostering arrangements as part of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF)’s National Private Fostering week.
New independent research reveals that more than 1 in 10 children in England could have been privately fostered; this is estimated at more than 10,000 children in Britain.
It is a legal requirement for private fostering arrangements to be reported to the local authority, however 42% of the privately-fostered children surveyed said that they did not believe anyone outside of the family was told.
Private fostering occurs when a child under 16 (or 18 if disabled) is being cared for by an adult who is not a relative for more than 28 days.
There are many reasons why a child may be in a private fostering situation, such as a family crisis, a child becoming homeless, or a child’s parents being overseas, or studying or working unsociable hours.
John Osbourne, 43, was involved in four private fostering arrangements with his brother as a child because their mother was a student nurse and worked long hours.
“Out of the four foster families my brother and I lived with over the years, only one of the families cared for us properly. One family told our mother that we would be staying in their house with them, but once she dropped us off, they made us sleep in their caravan in the garden and hardly fed us,” he said.
“I think it is very important for people to notify the council as they could check that every child is being looked after in a loving home.”
If you or someone you know is in a private fostering arrangement please notify Hackney Children Service’s on 020 8356 5500.