Ealing's Children Are Everyone's Responsibility

Somebody Else's Child urges awareness of private fostering and child safety

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Ealing Council is urging residents to help ensure the safety and welfare of children who are not living with their parents or a close relative.

The borough is supporting a week long national campaign called ‘Somebody Else’s Child’ organised by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering that aims to raise awareness about private fostering. 

Private fostering is when someone, who is not a close relative - family friend, neighbour or distant relative – cares for another person’s child for 28 days or more. Arrangements are made between the parent and carer without the local authority.

Parents and carers are legally required to tell their local authority if a child is privately fostered, but it is thought many people fail to notify the council. 

As part of the campaign, which launches on Monday 21 March, residents are being asked to keep an eye out for privately fostered children to help ensure their wellbeing. And people who are part of private fostering arrangements are being encouraged to help keep children safe by informing the council.

Nobody knows exactly how many children are affected, but in 2001 the Government estimated that there could be as many as 10,000 in England and Wales. It is feared that some of these ‘invisible’ children could be at risk of abuse, or victims of trafficking.

People who are fostering children privately could also be missing out on valuable support services such as advice on claiming benefits and parenting support. 

The council is particularly asking people who work with children to be aware of private fostering and if they know of such an arrangement to contact the council immediately.

Councillor Patricia Walker, cabinet member for Children and Adults, said: “There are all sorts of reasons why children don’t live with their immediate family, but it still is very important that people tell us.

“We don't want to interfere in what is working well, but we do need to check the arrangements are good, that everyone is clear about their responsibilities and all know what support is available.

“Everybody has a role in keeping our children safe so if you hear about a child who is being privately fostered, please let us know immediately so we can ensure the child is being kept safe.”

For more information on private fostering visit the council’s website at www.ealing.gov.uk or www.privatefostering.org.uk.



16th March 2011