What is Private Fostering?
The British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) have conducted a survey on Private Fostering and what the general public know about it.
Private fostering describes an arrangement that lasts for 28 days or more, where a child is cared for by someone who is not a parent. For example, this could be a grandparent, uncle, aunt, step parent or older brother or sister. By law, parents and carers must notify their local authority of any private fostering arrangement.
The survey revealed that 91% of the UK adult population do not know what private fostering is or the necessary requirements needed for such an arrangement. The survey also revealed:
- 56% of people claimed they had never heard of private fostering.
- Awareness of private fostering was highest in older people – 11% of over 55s correctly identified the term compared with 8% of 18-34 year olds.
- 7.5% of men correctly identified the term private fostering in comparison with 11.4% women.
- 13.2% of respondents in the North East were able to correctly identify the term, as were a further 12.7% in London.
- In Scotland, only 5% of respondents were able to correctly recognise the term, and a further 65% of respondents who said they had never heard of private fostering.
BAAF are concerned by these findings as privately fostered children can also include trafficked children, unaccompanied asylum seekers, and runaways and teenagers estranged from their parents who are sleeping on someone else’s sofa.
The Government estimates that there are over 10,000 children in the UK who are under a private fostering arrangement. However, last year local authorities were only notified of 1,560 new private fostering arrangements in England.
If anyone is concerned as to whether they have a private fostering arrangement that they may need to report, they should notify the relevant Local Authority of their situation as soon as possible.