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Drive to raise awareness of private fostering

Support is available for private foster carers

Published 2 November 2020
Drive to raise awareness of private fostering

Wiltshire Council is asking people to get in touch if they think a child in their community is being cared for by someone who is not a direct relative, so they can be aware of the support and help available.

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

As families face the additional challenges of life during COVID-19 people are being reminded that support is available to private foster carers.

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 more than 28 days, 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.

Children become privately fostered for many reasons. 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, Education and Skills, said: "We all have a role to play in keeping our children safe.  We want people to let us know if they are aware of a child who is privately fostered. Some people may be unaware they are in a private fostering arrangement but if they are caring for someone else's child for more than 28 days then they should inform Wiltshire Council.

"We have a wide range of help and advice available for people who are privately fostering so they can be supported as they take on this important task of ensuring the child is safe and well cared for."

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 mash@wiltshire.gov.uk

For more information visit: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/fostering-private-fostering

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Published 2 November 2020