Cornwall Council is trying to raise awareness of private fostering and is encouraging people to let them know if they looking after someone else’s child, and are acting as private foster carers.

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for and living with someone who is not their parent, guardian or close relative for more than 28 days. Although this is done as a private arrangement, legally the parent and carer must notify the local authority where the child is going to live. However, despite this legal requirement, many private fostering arrangements are going unreported, with figures from the Department of Health suggesting there are currently more than 10,000 children being privately fostered in England and Wales.

“It is vital that people let us know if their child is living with another family or they are looking after someone else’s child” said Rebecca Sargent, the council’s family services placement manager.

“Whilst we know that most of these children will be safe and happy, there is also the chance that some could be at risk. Others could be missing out on the support and advice that our specialist social workers can provide.

“We recognise that some people may feel worried about involving the council in a private family matter, but in reality most people who have notified us say they have benefited from the support they have received.”

Chris’s daughter spent some time living with a family friend who was his private foster carer whilst the family sorted out some problems they were having.

Chris said: “Working with you (Cornwall Council )has been really positive. You got to understand our family and with your help our daughter came back to live with us”.

Gemma is a private foster carer in Cornwall for Sam who is 14 years old. Gemma says: “It’s been a long journey but we really appreciate the support we get from Cornwall Council.”

Cornwall Council urges anyone who is involved in a private fostering arrangement or thinks they know someone who is to tell them about it so that the can make sure the child is safe, healthy and happy and can offer support to private foster carers and parents if they need it.

For more information or to report a private fostering arrangement please contact the Multi Agency Referral Unit on 0300 1231116.