The role of matching children with foster families is one that often times will generate two key discussions within the general public. Firstly, there’s the seeming paradox of there being ‘so many children’ who need to be fostered and ‘we are crying out for foster carers…..there’s a National shortage.’
Indeed this is all too true, which is why we are always recruiting at Chrysalis Care. Always. So….what’s the paradox, I hear you cry. Well, the National shortage is not always obvious to ‘insiders’ of the fostering world. When it comes to placing children, there is much more to it than the availability of foster carers.
This brings me on to the second dominant discussion, which often centres on views about transcultural or transracial placements. The crux of the discussion is this: ‘Should’ children and young people be placed with foster carers who do not reflect their cultural or ethnicity needs. Often, such ‘needs’ are assumed….especially when it relates to ethnicity ones.
So…to address both discussion points in one foul swoop, I’d like to share a view….it’s the view that means that Chrysalis Care remain child centred, placing the needs of fostered children and young people firmly as of paramount importance.
Ethnicity and culture are important. Of course they are. Chrysalis Care know how much impact being fostered can have upon the identity of a child or young person in foster care. It doesn’t matter how ‘nice’ a foster carer is or how ‘right’ it is that the child is made safe and experiences a nurturing environment, sense of belonging is imperative to the well being of the child or young person.
However, it is not the only consideration and ethnicity and culture will not overrule all other factors, such as geographical proximity to community/school/family, or the foster carer’s experience in caring in certain circumstances, or in managing certain behaviours, for instance. If there are other priority needs, the complexity of a referral may mean that there are so many needs to be met, that a foster carer that ticks all boxes just does not exist. Similarly, if an emergency placement is needed, there are so many imminent factors, that it is unfeasible to be single minded about cultural and ethnic matching.
What does this mean?
Well, fundamentally it means that if a foster carer is found who meets the needs of the child or young person across a range of criteria and they are not a cultural or ethnic match AND they are receptive to the need to actively promote the cultural and ethnicity needs of the child AND the placing Borough is open to such an arrangement, it is possible that the child or young person may be placed with those foster carers.
So, transcultural and trans ethnicity considerations are not and cannot be considered from an inflexible view of what is in the best interest of the child. What is in the best interest of the child often transcends many factors and the reality is that if there are many, many factors, a same ethnicity/culture placement just may not be possible.