Northern Ireland Children of ‘mixed religion’ ignored

The needs of looked-after children in Northern Ireland whose
parents have different religious backgrounds are not being

Research by the National Children’s Bureau has found that children
with mixed Protestant and Catholic parents were over-represented in
the care system. But social services are failing to recognise them
as a group with particular needs.

The report states that there are very few neutral or integrated
support services for the group.

At least 17 per cent of looked-after children in Ulster are from
cross-community families, compared with 6 per cent of
cross-community relationships in the whole population.

Ruth Sinclair, director of research at the NCB, said some social
workers were reluctant to address sectarian issues in their urgency
to find placements for children at risk but that this could have
negative consequences.

She said a child might be placed in an area where services were
aimed at one particular community. “This makes it more difficult to
ensure that cross-community children have a strong sense of their
identity in terms of their religious or community backgrounds,” she

– Children from Cross-community Families in Public Care in
Northern Ireland
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