More foster carers from minority backgrounds are needed in Northamptonshire

More black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) foster carers are needed in Northamptonshire to ensure children from such backgrounds can thrive.

By Jack Duggan
Monday, 3rd February 2020, 8:15 pm

In 2018/19, 18.1 per cent of foster children in the county were non-white, nearly three times the percentage of foster carers from ethnic minorities, according to Ofsted.

John Simmons, director of policy and research at fostering charity Coram BAAF, said better advertising in minority communities would help to break down myths around the scheme.

"It makes it easier for the child if they feel like their foster carer is someone who understands who they are and where they come from," he said.

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More ethnic minority foster carers are needed in Northamptonshire. Photo: Coram BAAF

The ethnicities of the 415 foster children in Northamptonshire from April 2018 to March 2019 included 335 white, 45 mixed race, 15 'not known', 10 black or black-British and five Asian or Asian-British.

Of the 585 foster carers in the county in the same period, 540 were white, 20 were black/black-British, 10 were mixed, five were Asian/Asian-British and five were classed as 'other'.

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “We continue to actively recruit foster carers from all backgrounds to provide vulnerable children and young people in the county a loving and stable home.

"When placing a child it is important to consider the family’s ability to respond to all of their needs, including those associated with ethnicity, language and culture.

Coram BAAF director of policy and research John Simmons

"And in those circumstances when the family’s background is different to that of the child, it is important that they value and promote those aspects of the child’s identity as this will help ensure that the child develops confidence and self-esteem.”

Nationally two-thirds of councils in England have a shortage of BAME foster carers

Children's minister Michelle Donelan told BBC News: "I'm extremely concerned... I think we're letting down children."

Dr Simmons believed there is plenty of will from ethnic minority communities to foster but many are put off by unfounded stigmas like needing a garden or A-levels to be a carer.

"The focus is that child at risk has a safe home and a committed adult to provide that care," he said.

"I think generally children from BAME backgrounds do better with carers of similar backgrounds but that is not always the case."

The charity director called on the Government and councils to be more proactive with a positive campaign to encourage more BAME adults to become foster carers.

"It needs to be a priority issue and the offer that's made to prospective foster carers needs to be clear and needs to recognise the challenges to people when they take that step," he added.