Survation, a market research agency, has carried out a poll on behalf of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) which reveals that 91% of British people over the age of 18 don’t have even a rudimentary understanding of what private fostering entails.
This has led charities and children law solicitors to express concerns that this could mean that around 10,000 children are potentially at risk because of serious shortfalls in the public’s understanding, particularly in relation to the duty to notify local authorities of any fostering arrangements.
Children law solicitors warn that privately fostered children often include vulnerable minors, some of whom may be asylum seekers, troubled teenagers or trafficked children.
To be considered as ‘private fostering’, the arrangement must last for 28 days or more and involve care that is provided by a person who is not a close relative. Both parents and carers have an obligation to inform the local authority of any such arrangement.
Last year the government was notified of 1,560 new private fostering arrangements in England; however, it is estimated that there were in fact around 10,000 such arrangements, indicating that the true number has been seriously underreported. This is hardly surprising given that 56% of people surveyed claimed to have never heard of private fostering arrangements.
Understanding of the demands of private fostering was highest in the North East of England and London, with around 13% of people in these regions aware of the specific family and children law obligations involved.
For information regarding children and family in relation to friends and carers as it relates to the law, click here for more from the family law solicitors at Healys of Brighton and London.