Tameside Council is backing the national ‘Somebody Else’s Child’ campaign aimed at supporting children who are not living with their own immediate family.When a child or young person under 16 (18 if they have a disability) is being looked after by someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more, it is called ‘private fostering’. Under the guidelines, close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts.It is everyone’s legal responsibility to report any private fostering arrangements they are aware of to the Council to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child. Carers can also then access expert support and advice– from parenting issues to claiming benefits.
It’s thought that in Tameside - and nationally - most private fostering arrangements go unreported. Many of these will be because people just don’t realise that they’re in a private fostering situation and their legal responsibilities.
Private fostering arrangements can occur for many different reasons including parent’s illness, divorce/separation, difficulties at home or teenagers living with a friend or partner’s family. In more extreme cases, they can be down to issues such as human trafficking, slavery and child sexual exploitation.
It is also important that those regularly working with children such as teachers, health care professionals, social care staff and immigration officers understand what private fostering is and what to do about it if they think a child is in a private fostering arrangement.
Jane Taylor, Tameside Council Service Manager for Children’s Social Care, said: “The most recently available figures from March 2015 showed there to be only four children in private fostering arrangements in Tameside but there must be many more children who are not living with their own immediate family that we don’t know about. It’s important that we are informed about these arrangements so we can make the appropriate checks on the children’s safety and welfare and provide support where needed.
“Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility and we would urge people who know of any private fostering arrangements, or have any concerns about a child’s welfare, to get in touch with us.”
To find out more, or to report a private fostering arrangement, contact the Public Service Hub on 0161 342 4201