EVERYBODY has a role in keeping children safe is the message from Wiltshire Council for Private Foster Week.

The council is appealing to people to let them know if they think a child in their community is being cared for by someone who is not a direct relative.

The call to action is part of Private Foster Week (July 7-11) and an initiative called Somebody Else’s Child, which is run by the British Association for Adoption & Fostering aiming to reduce the number of children in un-notified private fostering arrangements in England.

If a child aged 16 or under (or under 18 with disabilities) is cared for by someone other than a close family member (parent, step-parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle) for more than 28 days, then they are in private foster care.

Private foster care can be a very positive experience, but some children may be vulnerable. Private fostering is arranged between parents and the private foster carer, and legally they must tell the local authority to ensure the child is being properly cared for and to provide support where needed.

Children are privately fostered for many reasons: teenagers living elsewhere because of family breakdown; cultural exchange students; a child from overseas living with a host family while attending school, or overseas students at boarding school who stay with host families during the holidays or any child whose parents have made a private arrangement for them to be cared for. Wiltshire Council is particularly asking people who work with children to be aware of private fostering and to notify the council if they suspect such an arrangement. Contact Kerry Osborne on 01225 716510 or see www.wiltshire.gov.uk/ privatefostering