A Very Private Practice

By Terry
British Agencies for Adoption & Fostering
ISBN 1 903699 05 3

This timely investigative report provides a
strident, well-informed and comprehensive account of the history
and current state of private fostering. It includes discussion of
the legal position, the research base, the risks posed to children,
and the current state of knowledge and local authority practice. It
points to warnings going back 25 years about private fostering
being a tragedy waiting to happen.

It describes how the largest group of known
privately fostered children are West Africans raised by white
families. The isolation faced by many of these children, says
Philpot, combined with carers’ low expectations and racist
behaviour produces cultural dislocation and reinforces
vulnerability to abuse.

This report ends with 22 key recommendations
to central and local government. These are based on the premise
that private foster arrangements should not remain virtually
unregulated, but instead be subject to approval and registration.
Those who fail to comply should be prosecuted, Philpot advises.

This accessible report makes a major
contribution to understanding the policy and legal context
surrounding the death of Victoria Climbie, and it deserves to be
read and its recommendations acted on.

Bob Broad is professor of children and
families research, De Montfort University, and editor of Kinship

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