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More information needed for a better understanding of private fostering

Ofsted says extent of private fostering largely ‘unknown’

Ofsted has called on local authorities, local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) and the Department for Education to work together to build a better understanding of the extent of private fostering arrangements across the country.

In a report published today – Private fostering: better information, better understanding – the inspectorate recommends a number of means to improve the way information about private fostering is collected and managed.

The report looks at evidence from inspections of 12 local authority private fostering arrangements between 2011 and 2013. Of these 12, only a third were judged to be 'good'.

The report suggests that the extent of private fostering, including of vulnerable children such as disabled young people, is still largely 'unknown' in many areas. As well as variation in the number of notifications by region, national figures are swamped by large numbers of international children attending temporary educational placements at language colleges.

Local authorities report annually on their private fostering arrangements to their LSCB, but Ofsted's report finds that these often fail to address important strategic issues or form an effective means of self-evaluation.

Ofsted has recommended that the system increases assurance, as well as its capacity for self-improvement, by:

The Ofsted report is here.