Evidence base

27 March 2018: The news round-up: Fostering in Muslim community a “communal obligation”; What really stops children coming into care; Education, exclusions and children in need; Carers urged to write to their MPs

Barriers to Muslim fostering and adoption tackled

The Penny Appeal has issued guidance intended to dispel myths that prevent Muslims coming forward as potential foster carers and adopters. Instead, it suggests that caring for children in need of foster care or adoption should be a “communal obligation”. The publication of the guidance follows extensive research and discussion with religious leaders and could mark a fundamental shift in the way that fostering and adoption is perceived by many in the Muslim community. As such it is intended to remove the barriers that prevent more Muslims coming forward as potential adopters and foster carers. “The clarity on the communal obligation upon the community to address the disparity of carers to children in care is a major shift in understanding of the problem,” explained Penny Appeal CEO Aamer Naeem. “It takes it from voluntary to compulsory.” The guidance was developed with the involvement of around 60 Muslim scholars and social care policy makers and explores issues around a child’s identity, cross-cultural placements, safer caring as well as terminology within fostering and adoption. Nearly 100 community leaders have pledged to raise awareness of fostering and adoption among their communities and congregations.

What really works to reduce children coming into care?

The recently created What Works Centre for children’s social care has confirmed that “safely reducing the number of children coming into care” will be one of its first two areas of work. “In recent years there has been a proliferation of models or services aimed at reducing the need for children to enter care. Many of these claim to be ‘evidence based’, yet the nature and quality of that evidence is very variable,” according to Cardiff University’s Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre which is leading the research at the What Works Centre. “As a result those leading, commissioning or inspecting services have a remarkably sparse evidence base to draw upon, and the evidence that does exist is often not freely available to those making crucial decisions about which services to develop or use…We can have no confidence that families across England are consistently being offered effective services to help them care for their children at home.”

Education and children in need probed

The Department for Education has launched a review into school exclusions, which have rocketed in recent months, particularly in some academies in the north of England. The review will be led by Edward Timpson who was children’s minister until he lost his seat in the 2017 general election. The government has also released new analysis of children in need which shows that one in ten looked after children had received at least one fixed term exclusion in the 2014-2015 school year. It is calling for evidence on what works in improving the educational outcomes of children in need.

Unhappy with the stocktake? Write to your MP, says Fostering Network

And finally, the Fostering Network is inviting carers to contact their MP to explain why they are unhappy with the recent fostering review carried out by Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers. The move follows the Network’s open letter to the government published earlier this month (TWiF 13 March 2018).

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