Private fostering – keeping children safe in Doncaster

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Doncaster Children’s Services Trust is urging residents this Private Fostering Week (6-10 July) to help them ensure the safety and wellbeing of local children who don’t live at home with their parents or close relative.

Private fostering is when someone who is not a close relative cares for another person’s child for 28 days or more. Anyone involved in a private fostering arrangement is required by law to tell the Trust about these arrangements so that these children can be kept safe and their carers can get the support that they may be entitled to.

Local private foster carer Janet* has been looking after her nine-year-old great niece Hannah* for the last 18 months.

Janet said: “I agreed to care for Hannah, because of a breakdown within her family. I was asked by her father if I could look after her and so that she could live with someone she knew. We informed Doncaster Children’s Services Trust about the agreement and I was allocated a private fostering social worker, who made sure I was suitable to care for Hannah. My social worker continues to support me and has helped me access entitlements.

“Hannah has settled down well and is happy living with me. She regularly sees her parents and I ask them about things that may affect their daughter. This arrangement has worked out really well for all involved and means that Hannah is looked after by someone she knows.”

It is estimated that there are up to 10,000 children in the UK who are looked after in this way. However, it is feared that many of these have not have been notified to their local authority and potentially could be at risk.

The Trust’s Provider Service Manager for Fostering Service, Sue May said: “Private foster carers step in at a very difficult time and they do a really good job. Raising awareness of children who may be cared for under these arrangements is the responsibility of everyone in Doncaster. Whether you come across children in this situation through your work or there are arrangements that you know of in your community, we are asking you to let us know.”

For more information about private fostering visit www.doncasterchildrenstrust.co.uk/private-fostering or contact Doncaster Children’s Services Trust on 01302 737789.

* Janet and Hannah are not their real names.