Yoni Ejo says councils have a duty to ensure that black children
have foster carers of the same culture.
During recent debates regarding adoption, the experience of
black children placed with white carers has been alluded to but
never fully discussed. During the case of the internet twins, for
example, there was a lack of analysis of the cultural impact of
them being placed with white carers in Wales.
I am concerned about the number of black young people placed
with carers who do not reflect their culture of birth. While
transracial placements undeniably solve the immediate problem of
finding a placement for young black people, they may cause years of
difficulties for the young person in understanding themselves and
Placing young people inappropriately creates problems for the
young person’s need for a positive experience. Assessed and
appropriate black carers and residential workers can most
effectively meet the full range of support needs – cultural,
educational, physical, health and emotional needs.
When a young person is removed from an abusive parent they may
search for an explanation or a justification for their parent’s
behaviour. Where black young people are subsequently placed with
white carers, they can reach the conclusion that black people are
abusive and dangerous.
It is small wonder that some young people resort to the denial
and dismissal of their birth families’ communities.
It is crucial that carers and residential units reflect the
diversity of wider communities. I recognise that local authorities
are finding it difficult to recruit carers from a range of
But the lack of placements matching with a young person’s
individual circumstances results in those black carers available
not being effectively utilised. For example, some care for young
white people, or are not used at all.
There are many examples of the devastating impact when agencies
fail to develop a range of placement options readily available from
the beginning of a young person’s care history.
Few could disagree that young black people have the right to be
appropriately placed from their reception into care. But there is
significant evidence that many local authorities do not have a
recruitment process which targets black communities for foster and
Local authorities could undertake targeted campaigns, black
recruitment courses and assessments, as well as developing other
In addition, all generic recruitment campaigns could involve
existing black carers and develop effective links with local black
communities. It is crucial that within the current review of
adoption services, the importance of recruiting a diverse
population of adopters and foster parents is not lost. CC
Yoni Ejo is chief executive of the Bibini Centre for