The importance of identity

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James Foyle will be leading our new Muslim Fostering Project and in this blog touches on the importance of faith and identity in foster care.

Faith, culture, identity – these should all be factoring into the matching decisions fostering services are making on a daily basis to ensure children are placed with the best foster carer for them.

Our identities are who we are, who we’ve been and who we will become. It is, therefore, essential to fully understand identity before making potentially life changing decisions for looked after children and young people.

The Fostering Network, in partnership with Mercy Mission are about to embark on a project to research the current issues for Muslim children in foster care, Muslim foster carers and some of the barriers and opportunities presented to fostering services to engage Muslim communities. Funded by the Better Community Business Network, The Muslim Fostering Project will be gathering data, working with local authorities, and getting the message out to the Muslim community that we need them to fully engage in foster care and potentially come forward to foster.

Of course, matching is more sophisticated than simply placing a Muslim child with a Muslim family, for example. But where a Muslim child cannot be matched with someone who knows and understands their faith and cultural identity, we need to make sure that their foster carer is supported to care for them to the best of their ability and achieve the best outcomes for that child. Foster carers need to know how important it is for that child to eat halal, or when it is appropriate for them to attend Friday prayers. These, among a myriad other factors, will form a Muslim fostered child’s identity.

This project is part of a wider initiative, our Fostering Identity Programme, which will be exploring other cultural, faith and heritage backgrounds to paint a picture of the current needs of looked after children, foster carers and the breadth of support available to each group. We are hopeful that this work will lead to specific training resources and other products and services that will better help our members care for the children they foster.

We are passionate in helping children and young people in foster care with any identity to achieve their potential.

For more information on the Muslim Fostering Project, please contact james.foyle@fostering.net