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Fostering across cultures

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No matter your own ethnicity, religion, culture or background, as a foster carer, it’s important to demonstrate a good sense of cultural sensitivity and competence. Foster carers should be equipped with the skills and knowledge to understand and respect the cultural backgrounds of the children they care for. In this guide, we’ll explain the need for foster carers across all cultures as well as how we consider a child’s culture when matching them with a foster carer.

Cultural diversity in foster care

Figures based on research by the UK Government state that as of 31 March 2022, 81% of foster carers are White, which is slightly lower than the proportion of White individuals in the general population. The most recent data states that children of ethnic minority backgrounds make up 28% of children in care at independent foster care agencies. Cultural diversity is important in foster care, as it’s beneficial for children in care to experience representation that reflects the diversity of children in care.

Matching children with foster carers  

Matching a foster child with foster carers who can provide them with a culturally responsive and supportive environment. As part of the fostering assessment process, we’ll ask you questions about your cultural, ethnic and religious background with the aim of matching the foster child with foster carers of a similar background. This helps to make the adjustment of transitioning to foster care a less disruptive experience for them. Here at Excel Fostering, a child-centric approach is always at the heart of what we do, and while we will always try to match a child to a family with a similar background, sometimes this is not always possible.

Fostering a child from a different culture

If you’re caring for a child from a different culture, race, religion or ethnicity to you, it’s important to practice cultural sensitivity by recognising and valuing their unique cultural identity. You should acknowledge that your foster child comes from a different background to you, but respect and celebrate these differences. Encourage your foster child to embrace their cultural identity, but ultimately let them lead the way with how much they want to be immersed in their culture, and keep an open line of communication so that they feel comfortable communicating their feelings with you.

Some of the ways that you can encourage your foster child to embrace their cultural identity include.

  • Educate yourself: The first step you should take is to educate yourself about your foster child's cultural background. This can be by reading books, watching documentaries, or attending cultural events to get a better understanding of their background.
  • Maintain family connections: If possible, you should maintain connections with your foster child’s family or community members who share their cultural background.
  • Connect with cultural organisations: Seek out cultural organisations where your foster child can interact with peers who share the same cultural background.
  • Explore representation in entertainment and media: This could include watching films or TV shows that include characters from the same background as them, exploring music and dance from their culture and reading books with characters of the same cultural identity.
  • Explore food: Sharing cultural dishes, recipes and traditions around food can help your foster child develop their sense of cultural identity.

Fostering a child from a different religion

Fostering a child who has grown up practising a different religion to you, requires the same sensitivity and respect as fostering a child from a different cultural or ethnic background to you. It’s important to bear in mind that some children and young people may not want to practice their religion at all in foster care, but you should still provide the opportunity if they change their minds. Equally, you should support your foster child if they want to practice their religion, showing interest and support.  

Some of the ways that you can support your foster child when practising their religion include:

  • Find out if they want to continue to go to their place of worship and make accommodations to allow them to attend religious services and festivals if they wish too.
  • Create a calm and quiet area of your home for your foster child to pray if and when they want to.
  • If there’s any food prohibited by their religion, ensure that you make adequate accommodations, for example by finding a local kosher or halal butcher.
  • Speak to your child about whether they want to wear faith-based clothing (like a kippah, hijab or turban) to demonstrate their religious significance. If they do want to wear religious clothing, you should support them in this.

When applying to become a foster carer, you may ask can I choose who I foster? While you can’t choose who you foster, our fostering team will always try and ensure that every placement is well-matched. If you’re ready to find out more and want to learn more about the fostering process, get in touch with a member of our helpful team here at Excel Fostering today.

Thinking of fostering?

If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
An experienced fostering advisor from your local area will then be in touch.

The information you provide will be used to respond to the enquiry you have submitted, for further information please refer to our privacy policy.

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