The British Association of Adopion and Fostering has found that privately-fostered children in London are being put at risk because of a lack of awareness among the public and professionals.
A poll of more than 200 professionals who work with children, including teachers and nurses, found just 18% could define private fostering correctly, despite their responsibility to help identify children living in the arrangement.
Of 1,200 people surveyed overall by YouGov for Baaf, only 16% knew that a parent or carer must notify the local authority where the child is going to live when making private fostering arrangements.
Baaf chief executive David Holmes said the lack of awareness of private fostering was “disturbing”, and that hundreds – or even thousands – of London children in such arrangements were “effectively invisible”. He added: “If local authorities do not know where these children are and who they are living with, they are powerless to keep them safe.”
Under the Children and Young Persons Bill, the government would delay a decision on whether to introduce a compulsory registration scheme for private fostering from 2008 to 2011. The decision on registration will be based on parents’ compliance with the current notification system.
Government private fostering information