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Parents & Carers

What is Child Abuse?

Child protection involves taking steps to safeguard vulnerable children and young people who have suffered or are at risk of suffering from physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect.

Worried about a child?

It is everybody’s responsibility to keep children and young people safe. If you’re concerned that a child is being abused or neglected you should report it so that the child can be protected.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

If you have a concern about a child, please call MASH on 0345 050 7666.

Getting help early

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 put help in place before things worse.

Throughout your child’s life there are people around you can go to get advice, guidance and support, for example:

  • Midwives
  • Health Visitors, GPs
  • Children and Family Centres, nurseries
  • Schools
  • Other workers you might be in contact with such as PSCOs or Housing Officers

Go to the Family Information Service webpage for more information on childcare, activities and services for families in Oxfordshire.

For further information on specific safeguarding concerns, please visit the Themes pages of this website

Oxfordshire Advocacy

Voicability provide community advocacy for adults with support needs in Oxfordshire with a particular focus on persons with a learning, autism or physical disability or dementia who are facing a challenge or issue including significant decisions about their lives and need support to make sure their voice and views are heard, but who do not fall into the criteria for other forms of advocacy. If someone is not eligible for statutory advocacy, they may be able to access general advocacy. For residents of Oxfordshire, we are unable to provide Advocacy support in relation to financial matters, accessing of benefits or any form of support with claiming benefits.

For further information on Voicability Advocacy Services, see VoiceAbility | Advocacy in Oxfordshire

Contact details


Private fostering

What is private fostering?

Private fostering’ is the name for an informal arrangement made by parents and carers for a child to live with another family. A child is automatically being ‘privately fostered’ if they are:

Under the age of 16 (or 18 if the child is disabled)


They are being cared for and provided with accommodation by someone who is not a close relative*


The arrangement has lasted or is intended to last for 28 days or more.

*Close relatives are parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle or step parent (by marriage) but not a cousin, grand aunt or a family friend.

When is it private fostering?

Private fostering covers a wide range of situations. Here are some of the most common within Oxfordshire:

  • Teenagers living with friends or extended family following problems at home
  • Children who stay with another family while their own parents are unable to care for them (due to hospital admission, prison sentence, or family crisis)
  • Children sent to the UK for education or health care by birth parents living overseas

It is not private fostering if:

  • The carer is the child’s legal parent (by birth or adoption)
  • The carer has a legal order which gives them parental responsibility
  • The carer is an approved foster carer and/or the arrangement was made by social services
  • The arrangement lasts for less than 28 days

If you are privately fostering a child or if your child is being Privately Fostered you must notify your local authority.

If you are arranging for your child to be cared for by another family or if you think you may be privately fostering a child please contact your local authority.

Privately fostering a child is legal, but not notifying the local authority is against the law.

Oxfordshire County Council Family Placement Team have produced this Guide to Private Fostering to help dispel any myths regarding what private fostering involves.

For further information and guidance, visit Oxfordshire County Council private fostering webpages