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Fostering privately? Make it a summer to remember for the borough’s youngsters

Little one holding hand

The annual summer holidays are set to begin in the borough, but for a number of children and young people in Barking and Dagenham, they will be spending it with someone who is not a close relative or family.

Figures show that approximately 20,000 children up and down the country will be living away from home in private fostering arrangements, but less than 50 per cent of these arrangements are registered.

Private Fostering Week takes place from July 9-13 to raise awareness and highlight the importance of letting the council know if you are looking after someone else’s child.

If you are currently caring for someone else’s child who is under the age of 16 years (or 18 years if disabled) for longer than 28 days, you are privately fostering and must inform the council immediately unless you are a close relative. Close relatives include step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts.

By law, both the parent of the child being cared for and those providing the child’s care must inform the council of the arrangement at least six weeks before it begins.

Private fostering is an agreement between parents and carers, but there are regulations about how a child is looked after and the council has a duty and responsibility to check these regulations are carried out.

Looking after someone else’s child is a big responsibility but you need to work in partnership with the parents, regardless of where they live and happy to ‘let go’ of the child when their time comes to an end.

The council will offer support and advice if anyone is considering privately fostering someone else’s child.

Councillor Maureen Worby, Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health Integration said: “The summer holidays for children is nearly upon us and it is essential that we hear from people who are private fostering.

“Private Fostering Week is crucial in helping us to make people aware of the regulations they need to follow. The council has a duty of care and we want to ensure that the child is being cared for in the right way.

“We are sending out a strong message that people may be prosecuted if they fail to notify the council.”

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