THE number of private foster carers in Kent has reached a 10-year high. But officials are concerned that they do not know the full scale of care arrangements across the county.
Private foster carers are people who look after a child under 16, or under 18 with disabilities, full-time for 28 consecutive days or more and are not a parent or close relative.
They are required by law to notify Kent County Council [KCC] so checks can be made to ensure the child is safe and well looked after.
To coincide with Private Fostering Week, KCC revealed that they have received 94 notifications during the last financial year.
However, County Hall is concerned that the exact number could be considerably higher because carers do not realise that it is necessary to inform the council.
Roger Gough, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: ‘While this year’s record number of private fostering notifications is a promising sign of an increased public understanding of the issue, we urge anyone privately fostering – or who knows someone who is – to contact Kent County Council.
‘Many private foster carers do an excellent job and we want to be in a position to provide support, advice and to ensure all children are safe and well cared for.’
KCC is asking anyone who knows that a child is being privately fostered to tell the carer to report it at least six weeks before it happens or within 48 hours if the arrangement is an emergency.
A social worker will then undertake an assessment to ensure the child receives safe and appropriate care.
Anyone who believes a child is being privately fostered and the arrangement is yet to be notified can call 03000 411111.
More information can be found at www.kent.gov.uk/education-and-children/adoption-and-fostering/private-fostering