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Leading charities warn of over 10,000 children at risk

91% of UK adults do not know what private fostering is

A Survation poll commissioned by the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) reveals that 91% of the UK adult population do not know what private fostering is. BAAF and ECPAT UK, an anti-child trafficking charity, are concerned that more than 10,000 children may be at risk because carers and members of the public don't know they need to notify their local authority about private fostering arrangements.

Private fostering describes an arrangement that lasts for 28 days or more, where a child is cared for by someone who is not a close relative, for example, a grandparent, uncle, aunt, step parent or older brother or sister. By law, parents and carers must notify their local authority of any private fostering arrangement.

The charities say that privately fostered children include trafficked children, unaccompanied asylum seekers, runaways and teenagers estranged from their parents who are sleeping on someone else's sofa.

Government estimates put the number of privately fostered children at above 10,000 in the UK. However last year local authorities were only notified of 1,560 new private fostering arrangements in England.

BAAF believes the shortfall in reporting is due to lack of awareness amongst the public and carers.

Other key findings include:

To ensure that private foster carers and children receive the support they need, BAAF and ECPAT UK are asking private foster carers to notify their local authority of their situation. BAAF and ECPAT UK are also calling for professionals who may come into contact with privately fostered children, in health, education, childcare, police, immigration and housing, to alert their local authority if they suspect a child is privately fostered.

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