Private fostering - Don't ignore it, support is at hand

Hounslow Council is marking Private Fostering Week (Monday 3- Friday 7 July), by raising awareness among parents and carers and of what private fostering means

Published: Tuesday, 4th July 2017

Image of a private fostering

Hounslow Council is marking Private Fostering Week (Monday 3- Friday 7 July), by raising awareness among parents and carers and of what private fostering means and what action people who are privately fostering, need to take.

The most recently available figures suggest there to be only five children in private fostering arrangements in Hounslow, but the Council believes there are many more that are not known.

It is vital the Council is aware of arrangements for children and young people in private foster care so that the appropriate checks can be made on the children’s safety and welfare and provide support where it is needed.

When a child or young person under 16 (18 if they have a disability) is being looked after by someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more, it is called ‘private fostering’. Under the guidelines, close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts.
 
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.
 
Many of these arrangements work well and as a local authority, it is the Council’s duty to ensure the welfare and safety of children and young people who are privately fostered are being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted as well as ensure that it can provide advice and support to private foster carers.
 
A private foster carer might be extended family e.g. cousin or great aunt, family friends of the privately fostered child, or someone with no relation to the family – who is willing to privately foster a child. Close relatives such as an aunt, grandparent, step-parent, brother or sister looking after a child would not be regarded as a private foster carer.
 
Councillor Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Children’s Services and Youth Services, Hounslow Council, said: “Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility and we would urge people who know of any private fostering arrangements, or have any concerns about a child’s welfare, to get in touch with us.”

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 020 8583 3426 for more information and advice.
Further details can be found at www.hounslow.gov.uk/privatefostering