The Muslim Foster Network (MFN) has made Friday 25th May, 9th Ramadan, as ‘Fostering Friday’, “a day of action to raise awareness of the need for Muslim Foster carers”, as it estimates 8,100 new foster families are needed in the next twelve months. These families are needed for Muslim children, many of whom (approximately 4000) are unaccompanied refugee children. Local authorities are supposed to consider a child’s religion, racial origin, and cultural and linguistic background when placing children in foster placements, but a culturally matched foster placement is not always available. The general shortage of Muslim Foster carers means a significant proportion of Muslim children have to be placed outside their faith group, which can lead them to losing Islam due to their distance from the community[1].

MFN, joined by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), are therefore urging mosques to highlight the issue in khutbas on the 25th May (resource material and additional information is available here). The initiative is also being supported by the Better Community Business Network (BCBN), Islamic Relief, and Mercy Mission (which the MFN is part of). The day is part of ‘Foster Care Fortnight’, which 21 mosques from across Britain took part in last year[2].

Over the last year, MFN has supported 1116 Muslims considering fostering and distributed 3000 guides for looking after Muslim children. In the run up to Ramadan, it has worked with 40 local authorities and has supplied 323 Ramadan welcome boxes directly to non-Muslim carers with an invitation to an open Iftar. The purpose of these resources and this support is to “provide the foster carer with tools and knowledge to enable them to understand the religious and cultural needs of a Muslim child. We want the foster carer and foster child to feel that there is a community of people who care for them and are willing to support them”[3].

In Autumn of 2017, reports claiming that a white Christian girl was placed in foster care with a Muslim family who would not speak English with her and banned her from eating Western food caused outcry in the UK, which was seen by many observers to be emblematic of a greater clash between Islam and Christianity. The media coverage of the story also provoked fears that much-needed Muslim families would be deterred from fostering. In contrast, the placement of Muslim children with white families is not something that has garnered media attention, although it is clearly an issue of concern for some in the Muslim community[4].

You can read the stories of some Muslim families who do foster here[5].

[1] MCB, 2018a; MCB, 2018b; Osborne, 2017.

[2] MCB, 2018a; MCB, 2018b.

[3] MCB, 2018a; MCB, 2018b.

[4] Allen and Harding, 2017; Osborne, 2017.

[5] Manzoor, 2017.

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Sources

Allen, V. and Harding, E. (2017) ‘MPs demand inquiry over five-year-old Christian girl forced to live with Muslim foster carers ‘who told her Christmas and Easter are stupid and European women are alcoholics’’. [online] 28 August. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4831134/MP-anger-Christian-girl-forced-Muslim-foster-care.html. [Accessed 22 May 2018].

Manzoor, S. (2017) ‘Muslim foster parents: ‘We’d never had a Christmas tree – it made them so happy’. [online] 3 December. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/03/muslim-foster-parents-it-has-been-such-a-blessing. [Accessed 22 May 2018].

MCB. (2018a) ‘National Jummah Khutbah for Foster Care #fosterfriday’. [online] https://mailchi.mp/mcb/25th-may-national-jummah-khutbah-for-foster-care?e=0ba599f937. [Accessed 22 May 2018].

MCB. (2018b) ‘Support ‘Fostering Friday’, 25th May’. [online] http://www.mcb.org.uk/support-fostering-friday-25th-may/. [Accessed 22 May 2018].

Osborne, S. (2017) ‘Mother of Christian girl sent to live with Muslim foster parents ‘was from Muslim family’’. [online] 31 August. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/mother-christian-girl-muslim-foster-parents-tower-hamlets-family-background-religion-faith-a7921431.html. [Accessed 22 May 2018].