Friday, 21 February 2014

Fostering Awareness - You Have a Legal Duty to Notify the Council

Are you looking after someone's children?

Many parents and carers just don’t realise they have a legal duty to notify CBC .

It is not unusual for family friends, step-parents or family members such as great grandparents or great aunts and uncles, to care for other people's children - but many don't realise they could be breaking the law if they don't notify the council.

As part of Central Bedfordshire Council’s Private Fostering Awareness Campaign they want people to be aware of the need to get in touch to ensure we protect any potentially vulnerable children.

Traditionally family and friends look out for each other and people may share care either to help keep costs down or to lend a hand if a parent is unwell or unable to care for their youngsters. Stepping into the breach and helping with childcare, for longer than 28 days, is known as private fostering.

CBC helps ensure children under 16, or 18 if disabled, are kept safe and families supported by providing them and their private foster carers with a social worker.

Linda, a single mum of four recovering from ill health, notified the council of her plans after a family friend agreed to help. Mark, her friend of 15 years, is a baker who runs his own business and has stepped in to help to ensure the children continue to have stability and security.

With no immediate family member being able to care for the children, aged nine to 14 years, they would have become ‘looked after’ by the local authority and gone to live with foster carers they didn’t know.

Mark said he's found the experience a positive one and added: "The assessment process was explained to me in great detail, I felt well informed and confident and truly listened to. I liked the approach my social worker adopted - informal but professional and I felt we worked well together to deliver a relaxed approach to interacting with the children."

Cllr Mark Versallion, Executive Member for Children's Services said: "Identifying and protecting vulnerable children is the focus of our work and that's why we urge anyone who works with children or young people to make sure they do this the right way. Many parents and carers just don’t realise they have a legal duty to notify CBC so I would encourage people to get in contact."

Private fostering includes a host family caring for a child from overseas whilst they are attending education. It would not include a child or young person living with a brother, sister, grandparent, aunt or uncle or step-parent (where the couple are legally married).

 To let the Council know of a private fostering arrangement contact the Fostering Duty Officer on 0300 300 8181 or adoptionsandfostering@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk