Many children and young people in foster care, the families caring for them, the social workers supporting them and others in the team around the child are affected by the deep-rooted inequality and prejudice that exists in the UK. Children placed in foster care are not one homogenous group. Those children from ‘Black, Asian and ethnic minority’ communities are often the most impacted by the effects of structural inequality - they are disproportionately affected by poverty, are over-represented in the care system, they experience racism and discrimination and they often experience poorer life chances. In order to make foster care the very best it can be, and to enable every child and young person to reach their full potential, placing authorities and fostering services need to reflect, undertake meaningful action and create change to address inequalities.
The spring of 2020 saw large protests around the world under the banner of Black Lives Matter following the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Black Lives Matter has been a movement since 2013 and continues to build social and political awareness on a global level seeking to bring an end to the racism, inequality and injustice in society. It is important to recognise that it is also a precursor to numerous social and political campaigns, events organisations and legalisation throughout the 20th century.
As a part of society, the children’s care sector, including foster carers, social workers and managers have vital roles and responsibilities to promote change, fairness and challenge injustice. Ultimately, the awareness of the impact of racism and equality, the development of knowledge and skills, the ownership of attitudes and beliefs, shape or impinge good practice to ensure that children and families, foster carers and all staff personnel feel supported, valued and empowered.
The notable absence of the specific analysis of ethnicity in many current studies, publications, and data collection in social work and fostering practice about the experiences of children and families, foster carers and practitioners remains a key issue. It is by addressing this area among many others that the opportunities for learning and development, evidence-based research and models of good practice may be promoted and create real change.
Despite this lack of analysis, please see some key signposts below (by no means an exhaustive list) relating to practice information and resources for children and young people, and additional information that may be of particular interest to individuals to help inform and develop confidence in considering the subject of equality, justice and understanding of the impact of systemic racism in society.
We hope that some of this information is helpful in your work and personal/professional reflections, and in continuing the commitment to challenging discrimination and promoting equality and inclusion for all.
If you know of other resources that you think might be useful for us to include on this page, please email email@example.com
- Practice information
British Association of Social Workers (BASW):
Community Care Inform:
Intersectionality: race, gender and other aspects of identity in social work with young people (member access) (19/06/2020)
Briefing note – Practice Note 75: Black Lives Matter: the key issues for the child placement sector (Jan 2021) (member only access)
Research in Practice:
Frontline Briefing – Confident practice in cultural diversity (member access) (Jul 2015)
Also see video Thinking about the impact of racism
Social Work England:
The Fostering Network:
Yorkshire & Humber IFP anti-racist working group
Produced a template anti-racist action plan (2021) which services can adapt to reflect local practice and approaches.
Summary of Anti-Racist Practice in social work (PDF) The History and Development of Anti-Racist Practice Claudia Bernard Professor of Social Work pdf (2019)
- Children & young people resources
Advice to help you if you're upset about racism (17/06/2020)
Books for Topics Children's Books:
British Red Cross:
The school that tried to end racism (25/06/2020)
The Black Curriculum:
The Black History Curriculum Report (Jan 2021)
Black Lives Matter: social work must respond with action – not platitudes (Wayne Reid, 12/06/2020)
Frontline says it must improve on race in response to critical feedback from participants (Alex Turner, 26/06/2020)
How to promote an anti-racist culture in social work (Wayne Reid, 17/07/20)
Black Lives Matter in the UK too but where is the voice of social work? (Diana Katoto, 10/06/2020),
Resilience: Our shared values, our shared armour (Kim Christodoulou, 16/06/2020)
The fierce urgency of now: Tackling racial inequalities in social care (Kathryn Smith, 05/06/2020)
The National Archives:
- National reviews/ reports
Home Truths: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the voluntary sector, ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations), (Jun 2020)
Making diversity count, ACEVO, (17 Jun 2020)
Lammy Review, David Lammy (2017)
McGregor-Smith Review, Baroness McGregor-Smith (2017)
Race Disparity Audit, Cabinet Office (2017)
Young people and the issues of racism and religious discrimination, British Youth Council: Youth Select Committee (2016)
- Legislation and employment guidance
Local Government Association:
Some things to consider:
- The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 which was introduced in response to the McPherson Enquiry (1999) gives public authorities a statutory duty to promote ‘race’ equality.
- Consider your fostering services’ ability to recognise and understand cultural competence i.e. awareness of the impact of culture, equality and diversity on practice, self-exploration, use of language, power, understanding challenges and obstacles.
- Explore, review and develop resources to enable your social workers and foster carers to help them talk to children and young people about issues of racism and with each other (it may be helpful to begin that conversation with your staff team first).
- Consider how your service supports diversity and difference, what support and training opportunities are provided to your staff and foster carers to promote anti-discriminatory practice.
- Consider the power of language, terminologies, and reflect/review – how does language used promote equality, diversity and inclusion?
- How are staff and foster carers supported through reflective supervision – consider what if any outstanding needs are and how will these be addressed for them and for managers etc.
- Explore your organisational demographic, and consider your current recruitment strategy to ensure greater diversity and inclusion across your hierarchical structures, teams and CPD in order to consider its impact upon your service delivery.
- Consider and review your policy and procedures in terms of an Anti-Racist commitment and anti-discriminatory practice
- Explore what specific support could be offered for those affected by the situation (see our stress support service details below).
- Recognising the need for sensitivity and that there will be a diverse set of responses, so providing knowledge and understanding of the impact of challenging structural inequalities and institutional racism needs to be part of the sustainable strategy undertaken by organisations.
- Responses are/will be variable and the conversation about racism, its dominant narrative and how people feel about it can be uncomfortable – consider starting with where individuals are at and not to assume that values and beliefs, experiences are the same or shared etc.
- Consideration of your roles and responsibilities as individuals and professionals to engage with the topic of equality and diversity including racism is the most effective starting point in order to begin or continue to offer more support to your foster carers, children and young people and colleagues.
- Does your service provide a foster carer support group? How do you tackle issues of equality, diversity and inclusion with your carers including your family and friends’ carers? Opportunities to discuss issues are essential in order to offer support, develop knowledge and understanding – ensure effective preparation, de-briefing and follow-up.
- Be pro-active and not reactive, listen and learn from others.
For further information please see our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion page.
The Fostering Network support:
Members of The Fostering Network can contact us:
- Member helpline England, Monday to Friday, 10am – 3pm, 020 7401 9582 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Advice and information service Northern Ireland Monday to Thursday, 9.30am – 2pm and Friday 9.30am – 11.30am, 028 9070 5056 or email email@example.com
- Fosterline Scotland, Monday to Friday, 10am – 4pm, 0141 204 1400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fosterline Wales, Monday to Friday, 9.30am – 12.30pm, 0800 316 7664 or email email@example.com
Stress support service – UK:
Members of The Fostering Network can access a completely confidential stress support service on 01384 885734, available Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm. (Please ask to be put through to the stress helpline)