Gains of regulating foster carers unclear

Regulating private foster care would not
necessarily ensure they would all make themselves known to local
authorities, child protection experts admitted last week.

Under the Children Act 1989, if a child lives
with their great-aunt for more than 21 days, as was the case with
Victoria Climbi‚, that constitutes a private fostering

Despite current legislation requiring local
authorities to carry out assessments and checks in such situations,
not all local authorities do. In addition, few private foster
carers are aware of the existing duty on them to make themselves
known to their local social services department.

Private fostering co-ordinator for
Gloucestershire Council Brendan McGrath said there were “lots of
reasons” – including immigration reasons – why a private foster
carer might choose not to come forward, even if legislation was
introduced and well-publicised.

“At the moment, there is a requirement for
people to notify social services. That does not work because people
do not know they have to do it,” McGrath said. “What would be the
advantage for people to register? How would they know about it?
Those are the obstacles.”

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