Changes to private fostering scheme fail to register

Changes introduced to allow councils to keep a closer eye on children living in private fostering arrangements are having little impact, the latest official statistics reveal.

Under the Children Act 2004, local authorities were given a new duty to promote and encourage the notification of private fostering arrangements.

But Department for Education and Skills statistics show that, at the end of March 2006, only 980 children in England were reported to be in private fostering arrangements.

Although this is higher than the 730 children reported the previous March, it still represents only a fraction of the country’s estimated 10,000 to 15,000 privately fostered children.

The latest figures will place more pressure on the government to abandon the enhanced notification scheme in favour of an approved registration system for all private foster carers.

Under pressure from campaigners including children’s charities NCH and Baaf Adoption and Fostering, the government inserted a clause into the Children Act that would allow it to move towards such a registration scheme in England by November 2008 if the current reforms “do not work as well in practice” as expected.

Contact the author: Lauren Revans


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