Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A Week In The Life Of...A Private Fostering Worker

As part of the private fostering campaign, Somebody Else’s Child, this week we chat to Moira Keen, who manages the Private Fostering Team at Tower Hamlets Council in London.

Privately fostered children are vulnerable. This is a safeguarding issue – you’ve got children outside of their immediate family with people who have been asked to look after them and who aren’t necessarily trained. They’re not foster carers and they haven’t been trained by a local authority so they don’t necessarily have the skills. Additionally, they don’t have their own social worker for support. If you’re privately fostering a child, and you’re not their immediate carer, it can be a very different experience to raising your own child.

Although most private foster carers do an excellent job we know sometimes that children have been badly abused, or even killed, by the people who are asked to care for them. Victoria Climbie being the most pertinent example. These children can be exploited or abused and nobody really knows because they don’t have family to turn to. Often they’re too frightened or ashamed to tell anyone at school, so it’s important that we know about them and that these children are able to build up a trusting relationship with a support worker.

I think more needs to be done to raise awareness. Here in Tower Hamlets, we spend a lot of time with professionals because we can help them identify privately fostered children. But for us to raise awareness within the community, it’s often very difficult. There needs to be a national awareness campaign on a public level because it really is important that we safeguard these children.

For more information on private fostering, please visit the Somebody Else's Child website where you can view BAAF's new private fostering resources fo professionals.

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