ANYONE involved in a private fostering arrangement in South Craven is being urged to come forward.

North Yorkshire County Council is seeking to establish how many children are looked after in that way.

People who care for a child full-time for more than 28 consecutive days and are not a parent or close relative, are classed as a private foster carer.

It is estimated that 10,000 youngsters across the country are privately fostered, yet more than half of placements are not notified to local councils.

"Privately-fostered children and young people can be amongst the most vulnerable in the UK," said County Councillor Janet Sanderson, executive member for children's services.

"Whilst we do not wish to interfere in what is working well, we want to be in a position to provide support and advice and ensure that the private arrangement goes as smoothly as possible.

"In many cases, private foster carers are completely unaware that they have to notify us and this means we are unable to check whether the child is being properly cared for.

"We are now having a major push to find out just how many young people are in private foster care.

"It is vital we have that information and we'd urge anyone involved in such an arrangement, or who plans to be in the future, to contact us as soon as possible.

"In some instances financial help may be available, and we can put people in touch with local support networks."

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