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

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8. Other Roles

Services in Contact with Children

The wellbeing of children who are privately fostered is broader than a social care function. Since all children should have access to what are sometimes described as universal services, it's important that General Practitioners, public health nurses, nurseries, schools, housing authorities, police, faith groups and those working with ethnic minority groups and others who may have a role in the lives of children also keep alert about private fostering arrangements. The Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) both highlight the need to be alert to ensure the wellbeing of any children who come to the attention of any service providers or are under their regular supervision.

An information leaflet has been produced on private fostering for wider services in contact which provides some information on the requirements of the law in relation to private fostering along with the risk indicators to look out for and some instruction on what action to take when they do suspect a private fostering arrangement taking place. These will be found on the Scottish Government website.

Families and carers often do not tell professionals or agencies about private fostering arrangements as they are simply not aware that they need to (this may apply particularly to new communities in the UK such as migrant families from new-EU states), or of more concern, they may choose not to tell agencies about these arrangements. It is the responsibility of professionals and service providers who may come into contact with these families to bring it to their attention and the attention of the local children's services departments. A leaflet which provides information for parents or carers on private fostering has been prepared to assist with this.

Linking in with some national campaigns such as those run by organisations like the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) and The Fostering Network (TFN) and consulting with organisations such as Africans United Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) or End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT) may be helpful when designing local campaigns.

The child's Named Person will be responsible for safeguarding, supporting and promoting the child's wellbeing. For those children who have a multi-agency child's plan, a Lead Professional will be responsible for overseeing the plan and will play an important role in ensuring the needs of the child are being adequately met. They will need to be alerted about any new information or discrepancies when collecting information relating to the child and will ensure that adequate checks have been carried out. Changes to the living arrangements, child's circumstances and any other new information about the child should be properly recorded and taken into account at future reviews of the child's plan.

See link to A Guide to Getting it Right for Every Child

The Care Commission (now the Care Inspectorate) report referred to earlier highlighted the need for local authority websites to have clear information on what private fostering is and clear contact details for anyone requiring to make a notification, or report a suspected arrangement that might need investigating. Correspondence from the Scottish Government following publication of the Care Commission report identified good practice concerning web information to assist local authorities in this area.

The Care Inspectorate has a role in inspecting how local authorities meet their obligations and responsibilities with regard to private fostering, including what local authorities are doing to encourage people to notify them. It will continue to monitor the performance of each local authority regarding private fostering, numbers of notifications and the quality of website information and report annually to the Scottish Government.

Child Protection Committees will have a leadership role in ensuring that improvements to local Child protection policy and practice take account of private fostering.