Muslim foster case: The rules and the reality

A judge in the case of a five-year-old Christian girl who was placed with a Muslim foster family has ruled she should live with her grandmother.

The local authority involved, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, rejected a report in the Times newspaper that said the foster family did not speak English. It also disputed other details. Reporting restrictions are in place to protect the identity of the girl.

Reality Check has been looking at the rules around fostering children and what happens in practice.

An unusual case?

According to the fostering agency Tact Care, while Muslim families do occasionally foster non-Muslim children, it is less usual for non-Muslim families to foster Muslim children.

There are no official statistics available on the religion of fostered children or their carers, but we do have some information about ethnicity.

Government figures show nine local authorities reported having no long-term foster carers from minority ethnic groups last year, but all reported placing minority ethnic children with their fostering service.

In 2015-16, 84% of long-term foster carers were white compared with about 77% of fostered children.

Foster carers can access training and are expected to demonstrate how they are meeting the legal standards of care. For example, someone caring for a vulnerable child will have to provide evidence that they understand the principle of “equality, inclusion and anti-discriminatory practice”.

When a child needs to be accommodated in a foster placement, a council usually has less than 24 hours to find them a home, meaning there is often not a lot of choice between which approved foster carer they are placed with. There are other considerations, too, like making sure the child is near their school.

The rules

There are very few hard and fast rules dictating who can become a foster carer. Each individual applying to care for vulnerable children has to undergo a comprehensive…

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