Councils have been urged to work with local safeguarding boards and the Government to improve awareness of private fostering.
Made without the involvement of a local authority, private fostering arrangements concern the care of a young person by someone other than a family member and in their own home.
Research by Ofsted suggests the extent of these arrangements – including those concerning vulnerable children - is still ‘largely unknown’ in many areas.
Of 12 local authority fostering arrangements inspected between 2011 and 2013, only four were judged to be ‘good’.
Ofsted said grades handed out to council services were ‘disappointing’ as none were judged ‘outstanding’ and almost 20% deemed ‘inadequate’.
While councils are required to report annually on their private fostering arrangements, many town halls are failing to address important strategic issues – the Private fostering report found.
On private fostering, some councils lacked ‘an appropriate level of experienced/knowledgeable staff to effectively support the arrangements’ or ‘a clear commitment from leaders and managers, in some cases as a result of challenging decisions about how to target limited resources’ - Ofsted said.
Local authorities were told to unite with local safeguarding children boards and the Department for Education to improve regional data collection and use and arrangements for self-evaluation of private fostering services.