A MAJOR campaign across Cheshire East aims to increase awareness of private fostering.

Private fostering occurs when a child under 16, or disabled children under 18, is looked after for 28 days or more by an adult who is not a close relative, by private arrangement between parent and carer.

Close relatives are parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

It is estimated there are 10,000 children in England and Wales who are not living with a direct relative.

Children and Families Services have a legal requirement to ensure these children’s welfare is being safeguarded and to check on the suitability of the adults looking after them.

Cheshire East Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Councillor Rachel Bailey said: “The campaign is about making parents and private foster carers aware of the support and specialist services the council can offer them.

“The problem is that by definition, the council doesn’t necessarily know about private arrangements, which means we can’t do our job properly in terms of safeguarding children.

“We want to work with families in private fostering arrangements and those considering doing so, to let them know how we can help and also make sure they understand what their obligations are.”

Carers, parents and workers in the health and education sectors in Cheshire are being urged to help Cheshire East Council ensure the safety and well-being of children and young people by letting the council know about any children who are being cared for by someone who is not a close relative.

The promotion is linked to a national campaign, somebody else's child, which is run by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering and aims to raise awareness of private fostering between February 24 – 28.

If you are privately fostering or your child is privately fostered for 28 days or more, you should let the children and families service know immediately by contacting 0300 123 50112.

Failure to do so is not only an offence but could put the child’s safety at risk. People who are private fostering can receive advice and support, and if you have not notified your local authority, you could be missing out.

More information can be found on the Cheshire East Council website at www.cheshireeast.gov.uk