Ben Short, Interim for Safeguarding and Care planning will provide the Private Fostering report to the Board.
The Chair welcome Ben Short, Interim for Safeguarding. The officer advised that the safeguarding for private fostering sat under the South Tees Safeguarding Partnership and the annual report was submitted to the Partnership on 21 June 2021. The annual
The officer was in attendance to explain what private fostering was, and to provide an overview of activity in relation to provide fostering so far in the 21/22 year. The Board were also asked for help, in a way of raising awareness of private fostering.
In 2005, legislation changed and Middlesbrough must keep a record of children who are known by the local authority to be privately fostered and to provide assessment and support.
The Board were made aware that a privately fostered child is a child under 16 years of age (or 18 if disabled) who is cared for by an adult who is not a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, step parent by marriage, sister or brother where the child is to be cared for in that person's home for 28 days or more and has been arranged without the involvement of the local authority.
A private foster carer may be a friend of the family, the parent of a friend of the child, or someone previously unknown to the child’s family who is willing to privately foster the child. The private foster carer becomes responsible for providing the day to day care of the child in a way which will promote and safeguard the child’s welfare. Overarching responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the privately fostered child remains with the parent or other person with parental responsibility.
Children who are privately fostered are not looked after children but are supported under Section 17 as Children in Need.
As of 29/12/21 Middlesbrough support
· 1446 children through Child In Need
· 420 children who have a child protection plan
· 513 children who we look after
· 4 children privately fostered
Local authorities have difficulties and challenges in realtion to the reporting of private fostering arrangements and it is therefore likely that there are arrangements in place which are not recognised within communities or by professionals and are not therefore reported.
Middlesbrough have therefore focused on awareness raising activity across the area, in conjunction with Redcar. This includes:
· Social media awareness – Twitter, Linkedin, Middlesbrough Children Matters, etc. on a regular basis.
· New poster campaign – schools briefed via Designated Safeguarding Lead forum and through the Safeguarding Information Officer
· Private Fostering Steering Group members have been sending the message out within their own organisations – police and health
The officer did state that they would like to raise awareness in communities and therefore any help/advice that elected members could advise to promote private fostering would be welcomed.
In response, the Board outlined that most local councilors have a facebook page and would be happy to share any information.
A board member queried where information was obtained from in relation to private fostering cases and in response the officer outlined that in most cases they are reported to the local authority through schools.
The Chair finally advised that it was importance to be able to identity these cases so that the correct support was in place.
The officer was thanked for his report.
AGREED- That the report be noted.