The Fostering Networks, Faith in Fostering: The Muslim Fostering Project
The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. For over 40 years The Fostering Network has been passionate about the difference foster care makes to children and young people, “transforming fostered children’s lives is at the heart of everything we do”.
The Fostering Network is being commissioned by BCBN to publish a piece of work aligned to the charity’s strategic vision that ‘All children in foster care enjoy the very best life chances and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential’, by exploring to what extent faith is considered, acknowledged and supported in foster care. This work will take place under The Fostering Network’s, “Faith in Fostering” programme.
The initial focus for this area of work will be Muslim looked after children and foster carers, working alongside Mercy Mission in the delivery of the Muslim Fostering Project. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are not sufficient Muslim foster carers for Muslim children and that these children are being placed with carers who are not from their religious backgrounds and/or who are unable to meet their cultural needs.
An apparent lack of national data means it is not possible to test this assumption at present. This project will seek to address this, capturing local level data and working directly with a selection of fostering services to understand the experience of Muslims in the recruitment process and the outcomes for looked after Muslim children. A report, available publicly in 2018, will summarise the findings, providing support and guidance to services to recruit and retain Muslim foster carers but also raising the need for faith to be a key consideration in the matching process.
The research aims to:
- To identify the number of Muslim children being fostered at any one time
- To build a picture of the number of Muslim children being placed with non-Muslim foster carers, and the reasons for this decision
This research will provide a comprehensive baseline for:
- Supporting the recruitment and retention of Muslim foster carers; and
- Improving outcomes for looked after Muslim children.
The information gained from the research will inform a report containing the findings from The Fostering Network research project, identify good practice recommendations for fostering services and highlight some of the key areas of focus for further exploration within the Muslim Community.
Specifically this work will look at how services can overcome challenges of matching children with families from their faith community. In addition to helping unlock potential barriers to recruitment, this work will also inform the training and support available for foster carers who are caring for children from a different faith than their own, to ensure they feel confident in supporting their ongoing spiritual development. This is a broad area of work reflecting and contributing to fostering practice across the UK but is particularly pertinent at the moment due to the wider sector debate around the support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and the need to ensure that the foster carer population has the skills, experience and confidence to fully support these young people.