Bolton Council is asking residents to let them know if they are aware of a child being privately fostered.
By law, local authorities must be informed of any child under the age of 16, or a disabled young person under the age of 18, being cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative for a period of 28 days or more.
A private foster carer could be a cousin, neighbour, family friend or a child’s friend’s parents. There are an estimated 10,000 privately fostered children living in England and Wales.
In order to draw attention to what private fostering is and the importance of notifying the council, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering has organised a week long campaign to raise awareness from March 21 until March 27, called Somebody Else’s Child.
Although the legal responsibility lies with the parent and the carer, the campaign is also urging anyone who works with children – teachers, childcare and health care professionals - to play their part.
Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Looked After Children and Safeguarding, Councillor Madeline Murray, said: “Private fostering is generally undertaken by people who are keen to care for a child, and is a wonderful thing to do, but it is a legal requirement that the local authority are informed.
“I would urge anyone who knows, or even thinks they know, about a child being privately fostered to get in touch and do their bit to make sure Bolton’s children are kept safe.”
Bolton Council is part of the Bolton Safeguarding Children Board, made up of key organisations that work with children and families in the borough including: Greater Manchester Police; NHS Bolton; Royal Bolton Hospital; representatives from schools and other partners.
To inform the board of any child being privately fostered that the local authority may not be aware of, call 01204 337479.