Fact check: could my religious or cultural background stop me becoming a foster carer?
Absolutely not. Our main priority is to find foster carers who, regardless of religious or cultural background, can provide a safe, stable, and loving home to a vulnerable child in need of care.
Portsmouth is an incredibly diverse city, with over 100 different languages to be heard around on the island each day and where many different religions are practiced.
Of course, with all these languages spoken and different faiths practised, foster care situations will occasionally bring up a cultural or religious issue, but we’ll be there every step of the way to help you through it.
Fostering alongside a religious or cultural background
With over 385 children and young people being looked after in Portsmouth and surrounding areas, we match young people and foster carers from a wide range of backgrounds, every day.
In light of this, there are a few things to consider when it comes to recruitment of foster carers who practise a religion. Although we encourage and accept applications from people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds, our number one concern is whether a child who is placed with a foster family will be accepted if they hold views that are different from the foster parents’.
One of our foster couples, Rowshonara and Syed, who practice a Muslim faith have looked after multiple foster children, from both a similar and completely different background to themselves.
“When you take on a child(ren) with a different cultural background to your own, you have to be mindful that they may find your cultural norms a shock and sometimes even a bit strange.
“We want every child that comes to us to feel comfortable in our home and to trust us with their hearts. Food is a great way to start building that trust with the child(ren) that come to stay with you.
“When a child comes to stay with us, I’ll cook and place a variety of foods on the dining table for them to choose from at mealtimes. I’m happy to cook not only my home culture’s food, but typical children’s foods and if needed, food from their own culture. This gives them a sense of belonging and shows them that we are respectful of their choices.”
Will I get training to look after a young person from a cultural or religious background I’m unfamiliar with?
We offer a range of training throughout your assessment period as well as during your fostering journey – should you be approved – all of which would prepare you for any issues you may face.
Our team, both the Foster Portsmouth staff and our foster carers, come from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, so we’re able to offer help and ideas to ensure the best fit for both you and your fostered child(ren).
Where possible, we’ll pair you up with someone with a similar background to the young person in your care who can give you advice – a bit like a mentor.
Dealing with conflicting beliefs
Being able to maintain open lines of communication with your social worker and the child’s biological family is crucial if you decided to foster a child who holds beliefs that are different from your own. They’ll be able to provide you with all the information you need to know regarding the child’s religious preferences and provide you with guidance on how to cater to them.
Rowshonara had an emergency situation in which she was asked to care for two young brothers from Poland and found it tricky at first due to the cultural differences.
“I remember two of the children that came to us as an emergency placement were Polish and had never experienced a culture where you eat with your hands. One of the children thought it was horrible and disgusting and refused to sit at the table with us to eat.
“I wanted to help this child feel comfortable in our home, so I set up cutlery on the table for him and his brother, but still, he wouldn’t eat with us. The next day we sat down and had a talk. I explained to him why we eat with our right hand and how lots of people across the UK eat in different ways.
“By the end of our chat, he said he found our culture and the reason behind not using cutlery interesting and once the initial shock had worn off and his understanding grew, he came to eat. Within a month we felt like home to him, and he asked if he too, could eat with his hand like us.”
Religion and culture can present several issues that need specialist knowledge and understanding. For instance, some religions don’t believe in certain holidays such as Christmas, they may have certain dietary or prayer requirements which need to be met. These are all things that need to be considered when you’re looking to become a foster carer.
We pride ourselves on being able to provide unparrelled levels of support throughout a person’s fostering journey. Should you ever find yourself struggling with a child(ren) in your care due to a language barrier, or their cultural or religious background, we’d always on hand to help through a tricky transition period and beyond.
Ready to take the next step?
If you’re thinking about fostering, and do have a religious or cultural background, please don’t let that put you off applying. You could be a great fit within our fostering family.
If you’re ready to start your fostering journey, or you have further questions, fill out the Foster Portsmouth enquiry form, give us a call on 023 9283 4071 or email us at email@example.com.
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