Poverty and poor language skills are making it harder for Muslims to become foster carers, a report by The Fostering Network has found.
The Muslim Fostering Project report, created in partnership with Mercy Mission UK and My Foster Family, looked at areas of challenge in the recruitment and retention of Muslim foster carers in England and found poverty and lack of English language skills to be among barriers preventing more Muslims from becoming foster carers.
A spokesman for TFN said that on any given day in England, there are 70,000 children in the care system, and in 2017, 2,206 children entered the system after seeking asylum in the UK from countries such as Albania, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Syria.
TFN said a further 7,220 new foster families are needed in England in the next 12 months to ensure there are enough foster families to meet the needs of children and young people and provide sufficient placement options to find the best match for each child.
It said successful matching relies on a strong understanding of the needs of a child and, although all fostering services aim to recruit a diverse range of foster carers which reflects their community and the needs of the children in their care, there are a number of barriers to Muslims engaging with fostering.
The researchers said that many Muslim families are considered to be living in poverty in England, often in overcrowded accommodation, meaning they do not have the spare room that is often required to foster. It also noted that some potential fosterers do not have the high level of literacy required. While others are unable to acquire the appropriate reference as a result of not living in England for their entire adult life.
The report also cited a ‘lack of cultural confidence, competence and humility’ in matching children to foster carers. With non-Muslim social workers interviewed within the report saying they lacked the confidence to conduct assessments of Muslim families for fear of causing unintended offence.
The report said, going forward, fostering services should review their recruitment literature and assess how it responds to the needs of a prospective Muslim foster carer. Focus on providing training and support for non-Muslim foster carers, and consider how staff are trained and supported to conduct initial visits and assessment of Muslim applicants.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said:
‘At The Fostering Network, we understand the importance of stability for fostered children and young people and the detrimental impact of making the wrong match between a foster family and child. We also know how important cultural and religious support can be as part of making the right match first time.
‘The Muslim Fostering project has identified the gaps in information and opportunities for fostering services across the country to enhance their provision for Muslim foster carers and Muslim children in foster care.
‘We hope that the recommendations for vital change within the report will help more Muslims make an informed decision about becoming foster carers and encourage a focus on providing the right support to children and young people from the Muslim community.’
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