Unregulated private fostering practices expose thousands to risk

Agencies for Adoption and Fostering have called for “urgent
government action” to protect the thousands of privately fostered
children at risk of physical, social or sexual abuse – many of whom
are West African.

BAAF has
called for the Adoption and Children Bill, currently before
parliament, to be amended in the light of its report into private
fostering, which reveals that there are between 8,000 and 10,000
children in private foster care in the UK.

report says that a significant majority of black children of West
African origin end up privately fostered by white families, often
in rural areas where the child will experience separation from
their culture.

“We do
not think it is tolerable that there is a large group of children
who are not given the protection of children living away from
home,” said BAAF chief executive Felicity Collier. “This is not
good enough.”

fostering applies to children up to 16 years of age (18 if
disabled), who are in the care of someone who is not their parent
or relative, for 28 days or more.

affected by private fostering include children attending language
schools, boarding school pupils who live away from parents during
the holidays, and “back door, pre-adoption” arrangements.

the Climbie inquiry to highlight the tragic consequences of
unregistered private fostering, the report recommends that
legislation should be introduced to require local authorities to
maintain a register of “approved” private foster carers in their
area; and to make it an offence to use an unregistered carer.

report also calls for Department of Health standards and for the
National Care Standards Commission to follow Scotland’s lead by
inspecting councils’ private fostering services in England and
Wales. Each council should also address private fostering in
children’s services plans and incorporate the Children Act 1989
principles of considering a child’s religion, race, culture and
language, in all its fostering guidelines and policies.

Philpot, A Very Private Practice, British Agencies for
Adoption and Fostering, available from 020 7593 2072.

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