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Private Fostering Week 2017

Merton Children's Services are marking Private Fostering Week (3rd – 7th July) by reminding Merton residents to get in touch if they know a child is living with someone other than their parents or close relatives.

Private Fostering Week is a national event which is part of an initiative called Somebody Else’s Child which aims to reduce the number of children in un-notified private fostering arrangements in England.

Private fostering is a private arrangement made by a parent for a child under 16 years (or 18 if disabled) to be cared for by someone other than another parent or close relative lasting more than 28 days.

A close family member is considered to be a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, step-parent or grandparent. A private foster carer might be a family friend, a cousin or a neighbour.

Although this is done by private arrangement, legally the parent and the carer must notify the local authority where the child is going to live so that the local authority can ensure that the child is safe, that the arrangement is suitable and that we are providing them with support and access to services.

Nobody knows exactly how many children are privately fostered, but in 2001 the Department of Health estimated that there could be as many as 10,000 in England and Wales. It is feared that some of these ‘invisible’ children could be at risk of abuse or victims of trafficking.

Merton Children’s Services are asking that if anyone is aware of a child or young person who is living with someone who is not a close family member for longer than 28 days that they notify our MASH Team on 020 8545 4227.

For further information about Private Fostering you can contact Debbie Taylor in The Vulnerable Children’s Team on 020 8545 3672.

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