The Barnet Safeguarding Children Partnership

Parents & Carers & The Community

Welcome to the parents, carers and community pages

welcome

 

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

You want to know that your children are safe and developing well. The vast majority of people that you will meet also want the same as you for your and other children. However occasionally children get into difficulty because of what other people are doing to them or with them or occasionally because they follow a course of behaviour that is not safe.

Children of any age can experience problems at times, and parents or carers can’t always meet their needs by themselves. When children do require some extra support it’s always best to find out what help there is before things worsen. We have included some tips and information on issues that affect children and young people alongside some guidance for the adults in their lives. We want all families in Barnet to have happy, safe lives.

More information about Barnet Council's support for children and families is available here

If you are a parent of a child with a special educational need or disability you may find more information here.

 Barnet Family Services Procedures Manual is produced and maintained in partnership with tri.x  - here you will find a comprehensive overview of all of Barnet Faily Services procedures and processes. 

All Barnet agencies follow the London Child Protection Procedures - which are regularly updated. Part A covers the core procedures and Part B gives practice guidance. Procedures can be accessed from the menu at the top of the home page and should be read alongside this manual.

Worried about a child

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

If you suspect that a child or young person is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed then you have a duty to report it immediately.

The Barnet MASH stands for Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub and acts a single point of contact for children in need of additional support and/or protection. Within the MASH is a partnership of professionals from a range of agencies including the police, health, education, children's social care, early help, substance misuse, housing, probation and domestic violence services who work together to share provide the right help and support first time.

Please contact the MASH below to report any safeguarding issues or concerns you may have about a child. You can also make a referral online here

Email: MASH@barnet.gov.uk

Telephone: 020 8359 4066

Walk in: Children and families can 'walk in' to the Council and ask to see a children's social worker any time Monday-Friday between 9am-5pm.

2 Bristol Avenue
Colindale NW9 4EW

Together, we can tackle child abuse.

  • All children have a right to be safe and should be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect
  • Anything you notice can help a child at risk. We all have a role to play in protecting children and young people from child abuse and neglect
  • Last year nearly 400,000 children in England were supported because someone noticed they needed help.
    • To help protect a child or young person look out for changes in their Appearance, Behaviour and Communication (A B C)
  • It’s up to all of us to keep children safe. Many people do not act because they’re worried about being wrong. You don’t have to be absolutely certain; if you’re concerned a child is being abused or their safety is at risk, speak to someone
  • Report it anonymously to your local council, NSPCC or the police who can provide the support a child may need
  • Information is gathered from many sources, and your report forms part of a bigger picture. Reporting your concerns to your local council, NSPCC, or the police, could provide the missing piece of information that is needed to keep a child safe.

Child abuse. If you think it, report it. Contact Barnet MASH.

LADO - concerns about a professional working with children

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

What it is

Allegations against staff or volunteers who work with children and young people in Barnet.

Allegations that meet the following criteria must be reported to Barnet's Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) within one working day. 

Where it is alleged someone has:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed or may have harmed a child
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child
  • Behaved towards a child(ren) in a way that indicates he/she may pose a risk of harm if they work with children regularly or closely.

The LADO can also be contacted for advice regarding concerns or suspicions about behaviour towards children by staff within Barnet's children's workforce. This includes volunteers as well as paid staff and those in a position of trust for example faith leaders.

Barnet's LADO should be contacted via the Barnet MASH Team.

What to do

The Governments 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' guidance outlines a local authority's role in the management and oversight of allegations against people that work with children.

In Barnet you can get advice and guidance from the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) by contacting the MASH on 020 8359 4066.

Complaints and compliments

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

If you have a complaint about children’s social care then we will follow the process set out below. This is in accordance with The Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure Regulations (2006).

The Department for Education has provided a guide to help explain the legislation and complaints process called Getting the Best from Complaints.

Stage 1 (Local Resolution)

Once your complaint is received you will receive an acknowledgement within two working days to notify you of who will be managing your complaint.

The manager handling your complaint will reply to you within 10 working days. If more time is needed to investigate your complaint, we will let you know and respond to your complaint within 20 working days.

Stage 2 (Investigation)

If you are unhappy with the response from Stage 1, you can write to the Family Services Complaints Officer advising us of why you feel the Stage 1 response did not answer your complaint, and request an independent investigation. 

An Investigating Officer will be appointed to conduct an investigation, and an Independent Person will oversee the process and ensure that it is carried out fairly. The Investigating Officer will write a report on their findings. This report will be used as a basis for our response to you.

We will aim to write to you within 25 days (or 65 working days if there are complications).

Stage 3 (Review)

If you are dissatisfied with how the Stage 2 investigation was undertaken, you can request a Review Panel, who will meet to review your complaint. This panel will not investigate the complaint again but will decide if the investigation and the results were fair.

Local Government Ombudsman

If after Stage 3 you are still unhappy with the Review Panel’s response, you can ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate your complaint. They look at complaints about councils and other organisations. It is a free service. Their job is to investigate complaints in a fair and independent way, and they do not take sides.

Help making a complaint

If you need help to make a complaint, you can contact the Family Rights Group or the Citizen's Advice Bureau. You can also contact your Local Councillor or a member of the Children, Education, Libraries & Safeguarding Committee for support.

If you are a child in care or a care leaver, you can ask for an advocate from Barnardo’s to help you. If you would like a Barnardo’s advocate, you can call 020 8800 0017 (freephone) or email advocacy2@barnardos.org.uk.

Contact Barnet complaints team

Tel: 020 8359 7008

Email: FScomplaints@barnet.gov.uk

Mental health and emotional wellbeing

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

What it is

Emotional Well Being means a lot of different things, for example: being happy and confident and not anxious or depressed. As parents we are always concerned about the emotional wellbeing and development of our children.

We want them to flourish and be able to do things for themselves, to be able to solve problems, manage their emotions, be resilient to life's challenges, have good relationships with others and not exhibit behavioural issues, such as being disruptive, violent or bullying.

However, there are lots of reasons why some young people become emotionally unwell, for example, experiencing abuse, having poor relationships with people that are close to them, struggling to get on with people at school, living in challenging home conditions.  

Just as we all have physical health, we have mental health too. And just as our bodies can become unwell, so can our minds. Like physical illness, mental illness affects people of any age, race, religion or income.

Poor emotional health can lead to problems later in life. Did you know?  1 in 10 young people experience mental health problems.

time to chnage

What to do

We do not always know where to look for help if we suspect that our children are going through a tough time, experiencing poor emotional wellbeing or mental health and many feel that to ask for information, help or support reflects badly on them as parents, when the opposite true.

Young Minds have lots of useful information and tips for parents and carers of children and young people.

There are lots of simple, everyday ways as a parent or carer that you can support a child or young person who may have emotional wellbeing mental health problem. Small things can make a big difference like being there to listen, keeping in touch and reminding them you care. 

Time to Change have produced a conversation starter which may help you talk to young people about their mental health. For more information and lots of resources, visit the Time to Change website.

In Barnet, there are local organisations that can provide support for parents, children and young people who may poor emotional wellbeing or who are worried about their mental health. These include:

Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) explains what NHS services are provided, and gives information for families and professionals on how/when to make a referral.

Barnet Local Offer gives information about services available for children and young people with educational needs and/or disabilities and their families. 

If you feel your child would prefer to talk to someone anonymously and speak with other young people who may be feeling the same in a moderated environment then KOOTH is a free confidential online counselling service for Barnet Young People 11-19 year olds.

Childline is a national Charity that has a wealth of experience of supporting children and young people though a variety of mediums, including online, on the phone, via an app and in some circumstances face to face.

Young Barnet Foundation hold a wealth of information on local charities that can offer support and advice to young people and families on emotional wellbeing.

Staying safe online

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

Online safety is at the forefront of many parents and carers' minds. Technology moves so quickly that it can be hard to keep up with the changes.

Below is some advice from Kidscape, their website has some great advice and tips for keeping children and young people safe.

Engage in open discussion

Promote open and calm discussion about your child's experiences on the internet. If they fear they will be blamed or punished for their online mistakes, they are more likely to hide a problem or try and fix it themselves, potentially making it a lot worse.

If they feel comfortable coming to you with their experiences, you will be able to intervene before a problem escalates or they expose themselves to danger.

Talk about the risks

Children start using the internet from a very young age, so it is important you discuss potential dangers early and regularly. Although topics such as grooming and sexual content can be uncomfortable to approach, it is imperative children are equipped with the tools to protect themselves online.

Encourage your child to read the Kidscape section for young people where they have a range of information explaining the potential consequences of their online behaviour, and advice on how they can protect themselves from threats.

Have an agreement and establish appropriate behaviour

The behavioural boundaries and sanctions you set for your child must include their use of the internet. You may wish to consider the following:

  • Set time limits for your child's internet use and incorporate regular screen breaks
  • Check social media profiles are set to private, so only trusted contacts can gain access
  • Ask your child to only accept friend requests from, or communicate with people they know
  • Remind you child that personal contact details are not given out over the internet
  • Advise that they never meet anyone in person from the internet without an accompanying adult
  • Encourage your child to come to you for help with any problem.

Parental controls

For primary school children, parental controls can be a very effective way of controlling the sites and content your children are able to access. Most computers and internet connected devices have parental controls available. Talk to your manufacturer or service provider to see what restrictions are available. 

BTSkyTalkTalk and Virgin Media have guides to help get you started.

Older children and teens are likely to get around filters, or access the internet on personal smart phones or portable devices. It is for these reasons that parental controls cannot be solely relied upon, but seen as an addition to the educational guidelines outlined above. 

Learn more

There's lots of sites which give further information and advice for parents and carers about online safety, including Internet Matters, UK Safety Internet Centre, the NSPCC and Think u know

Safe sleep

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

The below information is from The Lullaby Trust, and you can visit their website for more advice.

What it is

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby where no cause is found.  While SIDS is rare, it can still happen and there are steps parents can take to help reduce the chance of this tragedy occurring. There are some things you can do and not do to ensure that this doesn't occur.

Things you can do

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep
  • Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth
  • Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months
  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition

Things to avoid

  • Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby
  • Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink or take drugs or are extremely tired, if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth-weight
  • Avoid letting your baby get too hot
  • Don’t cover your baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding.

You can also see this information leaflet from the Lullaby Trust.

Bereavement support

Bereavement support

Barnet Bereavement Service - Find a service near you

Bliss - Bereavement support for families following the death of a premature baby

Child Bereavement Charity - Supporting families when a baby or child dies, or when a child is facing bereavement

Child Death Helpline - Support for anyone affected by the death of a child

Childhood Bereavement Network - Information about local and national services for bereaved children

Cruse Bereavement Care - Information and advice for bereaved children and families including links to local support groups

Grief Encounter - Support for bereaved children

The Compassionate Friends - Support for bereaved parents and their families

The Lullaby Trust - Support for families bereaved by a sudden infant death

Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity (SANDS) - Support for families following a stillbirth or neonatal death

Winston’s Wish - Support Services for bereaved children and families

Domestic abuse

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

What it is

Domestic abuse is any incident of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse:

  • Between people aged over 16
  • Who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members.

It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity, and can begin at any stage of the relationship.

Domestic abuse can be:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

Domestic abuse can also include forced marriage and so-called honour crimes.

It's abuse if your partner or a family member:

  • Puts you down, or attempts to undermine your self-esteem
  • Controls you, for example by stopping you seeing your friends and family
  • Is jealous and possessive, such as being suspicious of your friendships and conversations
  • Frightens you.

Domestic abuse and safeguarding children

Children who live in families where there is domestic abuse can suffer serious long-term emotional and psychological effects. Even if they are not physically harmed or do not witness acts of violence, they can pick up on the tensions and harmful interactions between adults.

If you are worried about a child living in a family where domestic abuse may be an issue go to what to do if you are worried about a child.

Who can help

National Domestic Violence 24-hour freephone helpline for women on 0808 2000 247.

National Men's Advice Line helpline open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm on 0808 801 0327.

Galop making life safe, just and fair for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. Phone: 0808 999 5428.

Safe Lives is a national domestic abuse charity addressing sexual abuse.

Children and young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111.

Missing

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

What it is

As a parent or carer if you do not know where your child or young person is i.e. they are not where they should be, such as not in school, not at home after their curfew, or where they told you they were going to be. You should make attempts to locate them by phoning them, contacting their friends and informing the police.

The police define a missing person as “anyone whose whereabouts is unknown whatever the circumstances of disappearance. They will be considered missing until located and their well-being or otherwise established”. That means that if you do not know where your child or young person you are caring for is they will be considered missing until the police know for certain what has happened.

If you are aware that your child or a child in your care is missing you should report this to the Police (dial 101 or 999 in an emergency). Anyone can report someone missing.

What to do if you are worried

As a parent or carer of a child or young person who is missing this can be a very difficult and challenging time. You have to report this to the police and most importantly help them with their enquiries.

Safe and well checks are carried out by the Police as soon as possible after a young person reported as missing has been found. The aim is to check whether the young person has suffered harm, where and with whom they have been, and to give them an opportunity to talk about any offences which may have been committed by or against them. Barnet children's services will also offer the young person an independent return home interview. This sounds formal, but it’s a conversation with the young person giving them a chance to talk to about the time they were reported missing.

There is always a reason why young people go missing and it is essential to understand the full picture so you can best support them to stay safe and reduce the number of times they go missing.

The Children's Society have a practical guide for parents and carers.

NSPCC provides a helpline for adults who are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child on 0808 800 5000.

Samaritans offer a free confidential listening service on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

Gangs and serious youth violence

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

Why do young people join gangs?

Young people join gangs for reasons which make sense to them, if not to adults. Some reasons why young people may join a gang are:

  • Respect and status
  • To gain friends
  • A sense of belonging
  • Excitement
  • To find a substitute family
  • Power
  • Protection
  • Money
  • Peer pressure.

What you can do

There are many things you can do to help stop your child from being involved in gangs, they are:

  • Talk to your child and listen
  • Encourage them to get involved in positive activities and to think about their future employment
  • Get involved in your child’s school activities
  • Know your child’s friends and their families
  • Always know where your child is and who they are with
  • Help them to cope with pressure and how to deal with conflict without use of violence
  • Speak to them about the serious consequences that occur from violent or illegal behaviour
  • Help them to understand the dangers of being in a gang and find constructive alternative ways to use their time
  • Keep lines of communication open
  • Be aware of what your child is doing on the internet
  • Look for ways of disciplining children that do not involve harshness, anger or violence
  • Work with other parents and schools to watch their behaviour
  • Contact local voluntary organisations that provide mentoring and other support for young people
  • Talk about your child’s behaviour with their school and other parents.

What to do If your child is already involved

  • If your child is already involved in a gang, they may not want to talk about it or be scared. It is important that they know you want to listen and support them. Make sure they know they have a choice
  • Stay calm
  • Ask questions, but listen too
  • Don’t be afraid of confrontation, but try not to approach them with anger and accusations
  • Try to understand the situation from their point of view and why they have joined the gang
  • Ask them what you can do to help
  • Try to agree about what they should do next
  • Work with them to find solutions and choices
  • Seek help from local community organisations or youth services, they can offer specialist support and programmes to help them leave the gang
  • Contact local support networks such as faith groups or neighbourhood police officers connected to your local school.

What the law says

  • The law focuses on criminal behaviour. If an offender was part of a group or a gang, this may lead to a longer sentence
  • If your child’s presence or actions lead to a crime they could be charged with the same offence as the main offender. For example, if they provided support or encouragement to a fellow gang member who committed a robbery or injured someone, they too could be charged with the same offence. This is called joint enterprise
  • It is illegal to carry a knife in a in a public place, even if it belongs to someone else
  • It is also illegal to carry a folding pocketknife if the edge of the blade exceeds three inches
  • It is illegal to carry a pocketknife if the blade can be locked
  • It is illegal to carry any knife, including folding knives, if there is intent to use it as a weapon, even if it belongs to someone else
  • The maximum sentence for possessing a knife in a public place without a good excuse has been increased from two to four years for 16-17 year olds and adults
  • It is illegal to keep any prohibited firearm, or to carry any firearm – including an imitation – in public, even if you are carrying it for someone else
  • The maximum sentence for unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm is ten years. The minimum sentence is three years for 16-17 year olds and five years for adults
  • Police can and will search someone if they believe they are carrying a gun, knife or other weapon
  • Police and school staff can also search young people for weapons at school.

Useful contacts

Metropolitan Police – to find details of your local team and find out more about the work they are doing in your area, type in your postcode. 

Crimestoppers – a free, confidential service where you can report information about a crime anonymously. Freephone: 0800 555 111. 

Family Lives – gives advice on all aspects of the parenting role and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls are free. Tel: 0808 800 2222.

National Council for Voluntary Youth Services – network of over 280 national organisations and regional and local networks that work with and for young people. 

The NSPCC run a wide range of services for both children and adults, including national helplines and local projects. In collaboration with the Home Office, they have extended the use of their helpline to provide information and advice to parents and others concerned about young people who may be involved, or affected by gang activity. Their helpline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Freephone: 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

Anti-Bullying Alliance – advice on bullying. 

Victim Support – a national charity which helps people affected by crime. 

Child sexual exploitation

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

What it is

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse. It occurs where anyone under the age of 18 is persuaded, coerced or forced into sexual activity in exchange for, amongst other things, money, drugs/alcohol, gifts, affection or status. Consent is irrelevant, even where a child may believe they are voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with the person who is exploiting them. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact and may occur online.

In all CSE cases, persons exploiting the child/young person have power over them in several ways including their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources.

Violence, forcing, bullying and intimidation are common grooming behaviours used to persuade vulnerable people to partake in activities.

What to do if you are worried?

If you think your child or another child may be at risk of sexual exploitation or is being sexually exploited you must contact:

Barnet MASH Team on 020 8359 4066 or email: mash@barnet.gov.uk

If the matter requires urgent attention you should contact the police on 999. 

Helpful links

Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation

CEOP is here to keep children safe from sexual abuse and grooming online. 

Safe and Sound have guides for parents and carers to keep children and young people safe and sound from sexual exploitation. 

Radicalisation and Prevent

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

What it is

Parenting can be a challenging task and maintaining a positive relationship can sometimes be difficult as children grow, develop and seek an identity that may be different from that of their own family. As our children grow up we have to take different steps to ensure their safety.

The internet provides entertainment, connectivity and interaction and children may need to spend a lot of time on the internet. Whilst studying, they use other social media and messaging sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Vine or Whatsapp, these can be useful tools but we need to be aware there are powerful programmes and networks that use this media to reach out to young people to communicate extremist messages.

Terrorist organisations are trying to radicalise and recruit young people through an extensive use of social media and the internet.

Young people may be drawn towards extremist ideologies because:

  • They may be searching for answers to questions about identity, faith and belonging
  • They may be driven by the desire for ‘adventure’ and excitement
  • They may be driven by a need to raise their self-esteem and promote their ‘street cred’
  • They may be drawn to a group or individual who can offer identity, social network and support
  • They may be influenced by world events and a sense of grievance resulting in a need to make a difference.

Signs to look out for may include:

  • Out of character changes in dress, behaviour and peer relationships
  • Secretive behaviour
  • Losing interest in friends and activities
  • Showing sympathy for extremist causes
  • Glorifying violence
  • Possessing illegal or extremist literature.

What Is Prevent?

Prevent is a strand of the Government’s Counter Terrorism Strategy (CONTEST). It is about ensuring we all work together to ‘prevent’ children, young people and adults from being drawn into extremist activity, including acts of terrorism. It is about everyone taking responsibility and knowing what to do if they have concerns. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, contains a duty on specific authorities known as the Prevent Duty which commenced in July 2015.

What To Do

Some suggestions that may assist you in keeping children and young people safe against radicalisation and extremism:

  • Know where your child is and who they are with
  • Know your child’s friends and their families
  • Keep lines of communication open, listen to your child and talk to them about their interests
  • Encourage them to take up positive activities with local groups that you can trust
  • Talk to your child about what they see on the TV or the internet and explain that what they see or read may not be the whole picture
  • Allow and encourage debate and questioning on local and world events and help them see different points of view
  • Encourage your child to show an interest in the local community and show respect for people from all faiths and backgrounds
  • Help your child to understand the dangers of becoming involved in situations about which they may not have the full information
  • Teach them that expressing strong views and trying to change things for the better is fine but they should not take violent action against others or support those that do
  • Be aware of your child’s online activity and update your own knowledge
  • Know what social media and messaging sites your child uses
  • Remind your child that people they contact over the internet may be pretending to be someone else or telling them things that are not true
  • Explain that anyone who tells them to keep secrets from their family or teachers is likely to be trying to do them harm or put them in danger
  • Consider what access your child has to savings accounts or gifts of money from family and friends (you may wish to suggest that gifts are made in kind and not in cash).

Referrals

If there is a risk of immediate harm or danger to a child or young person, you should contact the Police via 999.

If you are concerned that a young person may become involved in terrorist activity, or an act of terrorism, this should be reported to the National Anti Terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.

Referrals made in relation to safeguarding concerns for children and young people that may be at risk of radicalisation are made in the same way as other safeguarding issues. If you are concerned that a child or young people may be at risk of being radicalised, or being drawn into extremist activity, a referral should be made through to the Barnet MASH team on 020 8359 4066, or via email (mash@barnet.gov.uk).

The Act Early website shares information and support for people worried about someone they know becoming radicalised. 

Homelessness

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

Barnet recognises the value that a strong and stable family life provides to young people aged 16/17, particularly in relation to the quality of their relationships, education, financial security, preparation for adulthood and positive health; this is widely supported by research which tells us that children and young people do better when they remain living within their own families.

As such, Barnet Family Services will always strive to find ways to help young people remain living with their families by helping to repair relationships with their parents/carers or exploring other members of the family who might be able to offer the security of a stable home into adulthood.

We recognise that for some young people, this type of stability and security may not be available to them within their own families, and when this is the case Children’s Social Care and Housing Services will assess their needs thoroughly in order to decide the type and level of accommodation and support that will need to be provided to them.

Our commitment is:

  • To ensure that all young people approaching our services for help are treated fairly, with respect and with sensitivity to their age, understanding and individual backgrounds or circumstances
  • To thoroughly assess a young person’s circumstances without prejudice
  • To seek to find the best outcome for young people by listening to what they have to say and working in their best interests and in collaboration with them
  • To maintain a professional and calm approach towards young people at all times
  • To ensure that is safe for young people to return home
  • To ensure that accommodation provided to young people is of a good quality
  • To ensure that young people are escorted to their accommodation and helped to settle in and/or introduced to those that will be providing day to day support to them
  • To listen to young people’s views and feedback about their experiences

Private fostering

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a child under 16 (or under 18 if disabled) is living with someone who is not a close relative for 28 days or more. This might be a friend, a great aunt, a cousin or someone else known to the child. A close relative is defined as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or step-parent by marriage.

Many parents who have arranged for someone else to care for their child don't realise that they have entered into a private fostering arrangement when they have made informal arrangements with friends or extended family.

To keep vulnerable children safe and support families, by law parents and carers must notify their local authority if they have a private fostering arrangement in place.

There are many reasons why children are privately fostered. Such examples include:

  • Parental ill health.
  • Children or young people from overseas who visit this country for education or health care reasons.
  • Children or young people who are living with a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend's family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home.
  • Children or young people whose parents work or study long or anti-social hours.
  • Children or teenagers on school holiday exchanges that last more than 28 days.
  • Children or teenagers who are on sports or music sponsorships living away from their families. A parent or an agency, such as a college or sports academy, would normally make such an arrangement.

As a parent, what do I need to know about private fostering?

Even though this is a private arrangement, the law says that the local authority must ensure your child is safe and well cared for.

If you are thinking of placing your child in a private fostering arrangement, you must tell the local authority at least 6 weeks beforehand or in case of an emergency placement, within 48 hours of the placement beginning. If the arrangement has already started, you must contact Barnet Council immediately.

It is an offence not to inform the local authority about a private fostering arrangement.

What is the local authority responsible for?

The local authority works with parents, private foster carers, the child and anyone else involved in the arrangements, to ensure that everyone is aware of and understands their responsibilities.

They assess the private foster carer(s) and check that they and any other people living in their households are suitable to care for your child and that the place where your child will be staying is safe and of adequate standard. They can also give advice, training and help to the carer when needed.

For more information about private fostering and to notify the Council of a private fostering placement, please see online

 

Young carers

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

A young carer is a young person who gives regular care and emotional support to a parent, brother or sister, or someone else in the family.

There are many reasons why young people do this caring:

  • the person they care for may have physical disabilities
  • the person could have learning difficulties
  • the person may have mental health problems, for example being depressed
  • the person may have a problem with alcohol or drugs.

Being a young carer isn’t all about hard work. Many young carers say how proud they are to be carers. However, sometimes it can be hard for a young carer to find time to relax away from home.

Barnet Young Carers 

Barnet Young Carers is an organisation with friendly, helpful workers who are there to offer support and advice to any young carers in Barnet, aged from 5 to 18 years old. You can find more information on their website or contact them by:

Telephone: 0203 995 1090

Email: team@barnetyoungcarers.org.uk

Clubs and outings

BYCAS run two free clubs, one for younger children and one for teenagers, and they can arrange transport in a mini-bus to help you get to the clubs.

At the clubs, there are things to do, it can be a great place for young carers to have some time to relax and also mix with other young carers.

Young people can confidentially talk to a trained counsellor during BYCAS club days/nights. They also run trips out for the family, and day breaks.

School support

BYCAS has a schools worker who gives support in some schools in Barnet.

Live Unlimited and supporting care leavers

In February 2018 Barnet Council launched a brand new charity called Live Unlimited. The charity’s purpose is to provide Barnet’s 326 looked after children and 216 care leavers with the opportunities and inspiration to follow their dreams. We are the first local authority in London to set up such a charity.

Live Unlimited’s vision is that all children who spend time in our care and care leavers have equal chances to lead happy and fulfilling lives.

The charity will complement the extensive support the council provides to every looked after child, and will fund the sort of additional activities which families might provide for their children outside of school hours. You can read more about the goals and purpose of the charity by visiting the website

Live Unlimited’s pilot scheme is the Imagination Trust, a small individual grants scheme of between £25 and £250 to enable our looked after children and care leavers to explore their passions and interests. The grant could be used to contribute towards something like the cost of a course, pay for football/ballet/music classes, a piece of equipment or a trip to the theatre.

Who can apply

If you are a care leaver or looked after child up to the age of 25 and currently in the care of the London Borough of Barnet, you are eligible. For those who are under 18, applications should be made by a member of your care team on your behalf, or for those who are 18-25 years, applications can be made directly with the support of a member of your care team.

Care Team members are foster parents, guardians, social workers, social work team managers, virtual school case workers, advocates, independent visitors and personal advisors. 

For further information and how to apply please visit the Imagination Trust page. 

Unicef child friendly community

If a child is in immediate danger please call 999

Barnet’s partnership with Unicef UK

Barnet is the first London borough to work towards recognition as a Unicef child friendly community. The Council will work in partnership with Unicef’s child rights partners team to embed children’s rights in local governance, policy and practice. Unicef UK will support Barnet to achieve a series of badges that will mark gradual progress on a journey towards becoming a child friendly community. The Council and its partners will be supported through provision of training, capacity building activities, advice and guidance.

What is a child friendly community?

Child friendly cities and communities (CFC) is a Unicef programme that translates Unicef’s global mission – to advance children’s rights and wellbeing – into action at a local level.

Creating child friendly cities and communities is about a genuine and enduring commitment to children’s rights as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It’s about creating and sustaining places where the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children are an integral part of public policies, programmes and decisions. The term ‘child friendly’ is therefore not just about baby-changing facilities and asking for children’s views on play equipment – although both are important. Child friendly initiatives are about bringing children and communities closer together. It’s about supporting all children to be the best they can be and helping them engage actively with their communities. It is about valuing children, here and now, and working in partnership with communities to support and protect the most vulnerable children.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (The Convention) is a groundbreaking human rights document that sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all children everywhere are entitled to. Agreed in 1989 by governments from across the world, the Convention recognises the same rights for all children to be treated with dignity and fairness, to be protected, to develop to their full potential and to participate in the lives of their families, communities and the wider society.

Importantly, the Convention says what governments must do to ensure all children can enjoy their rights, regardless of who they are, or where they are from. The UK Government joined the Convention in 1991 which means all government institutions and  public services – such as schools, social services and health providers – have a duty to protect children’s rights in everything they do.

The Convention covers all aspects of a child’s life, from the right to education, health and protection from abuse, to the right to freedom of expression and privacy. The Convention must be seen as a whole: all the rights are connected and no right is more important that another.

The Convention is an important document as it defines children as human beings in their own right, and not just as ‘adults-in-the-making’. Within the Convention, children are not viewed as ‘property’ of their family or passive recipients – they are actors in their own lives, capable of navigating and influencing their environment.

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