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Private Fostering in Scotland - Practice Guidance for Local Authority Children's Services

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Private Fostering Practice Guidance: Ministerial Foreword

Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Children and Young People

This Guidance is in response to the recommendation made by the Care Commission in its report "Private Fostering - the unknown arrangement?" That report also recognised that local authorities were recording very few private fostering arrangements. There is on-going concern that some children living under private fostering arrangements are going unnoticed and may not be receiving the attentive care they need to achieve their full potential, or worse may be at risk of harm. Not all private foster carers and parents may be aware of their legal obligation to notify their local children's services when entering into any private fostering arrangements. Equally, not everyone who is notified is clear about their responsibilities in response.

We also know that there has been confusion about what constitutes private fostering. That is why the Scottish Government has developed this guidance which I hope will be helpful to local authorities in their supervisory role of private fostering arrangements. The guidance and the supporting awareness raising materials have been designed to provide clarity on the definition of private fostering, provide information on the responsibilities for all those involved, and enlist the help of all services working with children and families to ensure that private fostering arrangements are appropriately identified. We need everyone to shoulder some responsibility to ensure the wellbeing and safety of every individual child we work with and provide services for.

I would like to thank the members of the short life working group on private fostering with representatives from the Care Inspectorate, Association of Directors of Social Work, The Fostering Network and the British Association of Adoption and Fostering. Their expertise was invaluable in helping to develop this guidance.

I would also like to thank the many other key stakeholders, including Child Protection Lead Officers, Police Scotland, Chief Social Work Officers, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland and the many others who responded to our consultation requests with their valuable insights.

With this new guidance, I look to all services involved with children and families to work together to ensure no child in a private fostering arrangement goes unnoticed and the best outcomes for every individual child in Scotland are secured.