Sandwell Council is urging private foster carers or anyone who knows about a private fostering arrangement to get in touch.
The call comes during Private Fostering Week (03 to 07 July) as part of the campaign to raise awareness of private fostering as a safegarding issue.
Private fostering is when a child aged under 16, or under 18 if disabled, is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative for 28 days or more.
A close relative is classed as a step-parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt. Although this is a private arrangement, legally the parent and the carer must notify the local authority where the child is going to live so that the local authority can ensure that the child is being properly looked after.
This could apply, for example, to children with parents or families overseas, so-called “sofa surfers” or children attending language schools.
Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for Children’s Services Councillor Simon Hackett said: “Children’s Services has a legal duty to assess private fostering arrangements, so that we can make sure support is offered if required and that children are safe in Sandwell.
“We want to make sure people in Sandwell are aware of the requirements around private fostering. This can involve children being in a range of different situations, from staying with friends or extended family members due to a disruption in their family home, to children who arrive in the UK as overseas students.”
The national campaign has the backing of former athlete Kriss Akabusi, who said: “Many private foster carers do an excellent job, but not all are good.
“I know personally how awful things can be when they go wrong. I encourage people working with children to work with local authorities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children.”
The council’s Children’s Services is legally obliged to assess private fostering arrangements and it is an offence for parents and carers not to disclose a private fostering arrangement.