Failure to notify cues fresh demands for private fostering registration

Campaigners have repeated calls for compulsory registration of private fostering after government figures revealed just 730 notified arrangements in England.

Fostering charities estimate there are as many as 10,000 children being privately fostered in the country and say the newly reinstated count proves current notification arrangements are not strong enough.

The government rejected calls to introduce a register through the Children Act 2004, although private foster parents have a responsibility to notify local authorities about the arrangements and councils have also had to promote this duty locally since July.

The duty came into force after the figures were collated and Baaf Adoption and Fostering chief executive Felicity Collier said the number may increase next year as a result.

However, she said it was still “disappointingly low”. Collier said notification was meaningless without a clear requirement that arrangements were registered and approved.

Vicki Swain, the Fostering Network’s policy and campaigns manager, said the figure was “almost laughable” and backed the call for a compulsory register.

The research also shows that in 91 per cent of private fostering arrangements that started in the year ending March 2005, the household was visited by a social worker. But Swain said it was unacceptable that nearly one in 10 had not been visited.

Services ‘meeting young people’s needs’
Most children and young people receiving personal social services are pleased with the support they receive, according to government statistics.

Seventy-one per cent agreed or strongly agreed that support from social services was usually good. And 67 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that social services gave them most of the care they needed.

But the researchers warned that the survey should be treated with caution because the response rate was low.

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