PRIVATE foster carers are being urged to find out more about the help and support available to them.
Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16, or 18 if they are disabled, is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a close relative.
This is a private arrangement made between a parent and carer, for 28 days or more.
Close relatives are defined as step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts.
Legally, people in a private fostering arrangement need to inform Durham County Council as the local authority.
This week is Private Fostering Week and the council is appealing for help in identifying any children being privately fostered.
Council chiefs say it is likely that everything is fine, but the local authority has a legal requirement to carry out checks and private foster parents could be missing out on support, advice and possibly benefits.
For more information, visit www.durham.gov.uk/privatefostering. To inform the council of a private fostering arrangement call 0845 8505010.