The Times’ story about the five year old girl fostered by a Muslim household caused an uproar across social media this week with its controversial take on the case. The piece suggested that the child’s distressing fostering experience was down to being placed with an orthodox Muslim family.
Since its publication, social platforms like Twitter have been quick to seize on the story with many social media users highlighting factual inaccuracies in the piece. The judgment published by The Family Court reveals that there is some common ground between The Times’ version of events and the partial information offered in the judgment itself.
The tone of the article was also criticised for being xenophobic.
As a follow up to its story, The Times is now looking for people who are or have been in a placement where they were sent to live with foster carers who came from different backgrounds to them, and had a bad experience because of the differences in cultural heritage. This latest development is also stirring up strong feelings, with Twitter users condemning the move as an attempt to further a xenophobic agenda.
We are sharing this call for information because we feel it is an opportunity to broaden the debate and offer The Times something invaluable – a proper look at the flaws within the care system. A chance to highlight the real issues around fostering.
So, what are those issues?
After a decade assisting individuals who have experienced social care, either as children who have been fostered, or parents and grandparents of foster children, this is what we’ve learned:
- Culture is not nearly as important as emotional intelligence – a child can feel relatively comfortable in any new home as long as the family are willing to put the child’s needs first and treat them as equals (and we say relatively comfortable, because even in a culture-matched home, it is still a strange family and a strange environment to the child)
- Fostering is sometimes about the money – bad experiences can stem from being treated like an outsider or a second class citizen in the home
- Siblings are routinely split up – this can cause enormous distress
We have seen so many comments on this blog over the years talking about personal experiences of foster care, and they are all incredibly powerful, so we would urge you to get in touch with The Times and tell them your story.
You can contact The Times at firstname.lastname@example.org.