MPs call for private fostering regulation

Shadow health minister Tim Laughton has launched a campaign
calling on the government to regulate the private fostering sector,
writes Derren Hayes.

The Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham introduced a
‘10 minute rule’ bill in Parliament last week to
highlight concerns raised over private fostering by Lord Laming in
his report into the death of Victoria Climbie.

Although unlikely to result in any changes in law, the bill aims
to raise awareness of the issue. It has been backed by nine other
Tory and Labour MPs and will be debated again in the House of
Commons in July.

It is estimated that there are up to 10,000 private foster
carers in the UK, most looking after young children from west
Africa. Since 1991, local authority registers of private foster
carers have existed but many are not aware of it, there is no legal
requirement to register and no penalties for not doing so.

Laughton called for the establishment of a national register of
private foster carers, with there being a legal requirement to
register and penalties for not doing so. He also proposes making it
an offence for parents to place children with unregistered

“It would enable local authorities to ensure that standards of
care were suitable,” he said. “It would be simple and could be run
for relatively little cost by an agency.”

He also recommended setting up a tracking system for
unaccompanied children entering the country destined to live with
private foster carers.

“I am sure the great majority of carers do a good job and pose
no threat to their charges, however, we…have no idea of the
extent of the problem,” Laughton added.

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