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Drive to raise awareness of private fostering

Wiltshire Council is asking people to get in touch if they are privately fostering so they can receive help and support.

Published 5 December 2022
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Wiltshire Council is asking people to get in touch if they are privately fostering so they can receive help and support.

The call is also going out to local communities to get in touch if they think a child in their community is being cared for by someone not related.

People who are looking after a child who is not a close relative for 28 days or more are deemed to be privately fostering.

The call to action aims to raise awareness and to ensure Wiltshire Council is notified of all children in private fostering arrangements.

People who are looking after young people under 16 may also not realise they are private foster carers and the need to let Wiltshire Council know about the arrangements.

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 28 days or more, 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.

There are a number of reasons why children can be privately fostered. 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 offers support through dedicated staff in the Kinship and Fostering Team. A social worker will arrange an initial visit and speak to the carer and members of the household. There will be continuing support for the private foster carers and child and child's parents.

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.

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children's Services said: If you are caring for someone else's child for 28 days or more, then you need to get in touch with us as there is a legal obligation to let your local authority know. Additionally we will also provide help and advice and support you as you take on this important role of ensuring the child is safe and well cared for. We want families to come forward but also if you know of a private fostering arrangement, please let us know so we can ensure that support is in place. We all have a role to play in keeping our children safe.

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 (opens new window).

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