Register of private carers ‘inevitable’

The notification system for private fostering arrangements is only “delaying the inevitable” introduction of compulsory registration of carers, a leading campaigner has said.

Private foster parents are not currently obliged to be registered and need only tell councils about fostering arrangements. But Felicity Collier, chief executive of Baaf Adoption and Fostering, said some authorities had received no notifications since the requirement was introduced in July.

Baaf Adoption and Fostering estimates that up to 20,000 children are privately fostered in the UK. The government has said it will introduce a full registration scheme within four years if the notification scheme is not working.

At a reception organised by Baaf Adoption and Fostering last week, children’s minister Beverley Hughes said local authorities’ duty to promote awareness of the notification system was “key” and that she wanted it to work “very well”.

Hughes promised to continue to monitor the system to ensure it was strong enough to safeguard children.

A report launched at the event revealed that people from ethnic minorities knew little about private fostering, even though the practice is common, particularly among West Africans.

A survey by The Voice newspaper found only 35 per cent of its readers knew what private fostering was, suggesting even fewer would be aware of notification.

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