Placing Muslim children who need fostering with a Muslim family could be more important than matching them to people with similar ethnic backgrounds, Community Care Live heard today.
Abdurrahman Sayed, a social worker for Foster Care Link, told delegates at a session on fostering Muslim children: “We feel with Muslim children that religion plays a bigger unifying factor than ethnic background. If there was an Indian Muslim child he would be better matched in a Pakistani or African placement than a Sikh or Hindu placement.”
Familiar with religion
The organisation, which works with many unaccompanied asylum seekers, has found that familiarity with religious practices and observances makes fostering Muslim children easier, even overriding significant cultural differences.
Sayed said a lot of local authorities believed it was better to place Muslim children into a non-Muslim placement so they could integrate better into a British lifestyle. However, he claimed that Muslim foster carers could help with culture and identity as well as encouraging integration.
He identified a Halal diet, and ensuring all food including takeaways was Halal, as being important, adding: “For a lot of children that is a big thing.”
Sayed also said it was crucial to find foster parents who prayed regularly and knew the timing of religious festivals.
Fostering Care Link manager Peter Howes told the conference in London there needed to be more Muslim social workers, adding: “If you want to attract Muslim families [to become foster carers], you need social workers that the families identify with.”
Fostering Care Link runs the UK’s only specialist Muslim fostering service.