Buckinghamshire Council is urging residents to get in touch if they are aware of children living apart from close family, as this informal arrangement could be what is known as Private Fostering and if so, by law, the council needs to be informed.
Children under 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled) who are living away from their parents or close relatives (such as aunts and uncles, grandparents, siblings or step-parents) for more than 28 days are classed as being in a Private Fostering arrangement. By law, the council must be told of this.
Anita Cranmer, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services is keen to reassure people: “Private Fostering arrangements are completely legal and can often be the best solution for the child. There can be lots of reasons why a child doesn’t live at home and their parent has arranged for someone else to care for them. It might be due to illness or instability at home, being sent from overseas for education or healthcare, teenagers living with the family of their boyfriend or girlfriend, or something else.”
Anita continued: “As a council, we simply need to know about the arrangement so we can support everyone involved and ensure the child is safe and well looked after. So, if you think you might be involved in a Private Fostering arrangement, or if you are a professional and know someone who is in such an arrangement, please let us know, it’s the law.”
Last year, Buckinghamshire Council supported a number of children in a Private Fostering arrangement, but it is believed there are other cases it has not been made aware of.