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Perhaps one of the most sensationalised aspects of fostering occurs in cases where children are of a different religion to members of their foster family. These placements often then become politicised and, as a result, certain families feel they are not able to support a child because of the disparity in faith or belief system.

Neither we, nor any reputable agency, believe that a family could not support a child as a consequence of their religion. Subsequently, the system does not strictly place families with children in the same faith group. While it is true that there is much done to match religious beliefs, it is not always possible, and we would never refuse a child the opportunity to live in a family environment for this purpose alone.

To fully clarify the sector’s approach to matching children with specific religious beliefs to homes with diverse or non-existing beliefs, we have provided the below guide.

We do attempt to match faiths

We understand that there are considerable benefits for families to be placed with children of the same religion. There are practices (including Ramadan or Christmas, for example) which are very consuming for a child who does not follow the faith they are related to. Specialist knowledge is ideal in these placements, allowing the child to feel spiritually fulfilled at a time of adjustment.

It is also beneficial to try and create an environment that matches what would be considered a ‘typical’ family situation for that child. However, as mentioned above, the reality is that not all children are able to find themselves in a culturally consistent setting. Therefore, in order to ensure a smooth transition and allow for sustainable placements, most carers are trained and supported (by either the independent agency or local authority) to understand the needs of the child in their care.

Foster carers must facilitate the child’s faith

If the child’s faith is different to your own, then it is important to have regular, candid communication with your child’s social worker as well as the child themselves. Provided they are old enough to fully understand the particulars of their religious belief and routine, you can ask if they need anything from you or if there is any participation you can offer whenever you feel it necessary.

You will need to facilitate their forms of prayer and support them in travelling to whatever place of worship they utilise. You should likewise not discriminate against them and respect their wishes should they not want to celebrate the holidays that you celebrate. In preparation for festivals like Christmas or Eid, ask for guidance from your agency when unsure of the extent to which you should involve them in the celebration.

Those with conflicting beliefs provide cover when worshipping

If your foster child is atheist or has a contrasting belief system to you, you will not be penalised. You will, however, be required to find suitable cover while you take part in your religious routine. Your religious commitments, like any other aspect of your lifestyle [LINK > 3 Necessary Considerations When Preparing Yourself To Become A Foster Carer], should not overtake your responsibility of caring for a foster child. After all, you are there to offer a loving and considerate family environment, and you may need to adjust to achieve this.

To maintain a strong foster relationship, you need to act with respect; a child has the right to choose their own religion. Over time, they may feel more confident discussing areas of their faith with you. When this happens, you can become more involved in their practice without it contradicting your views – leading to a healthy home atmosphere.

How we support our carers:

At CFS Fostering, you will be entirely aware of the circumstances and beliefs of your foster child. With ongoing support in the form of your caseworker, any challenging behaviour stemming from religious disagreement can be addressed using our guidance. While we do ask that you go into all placements prioritising the safety of the foster child and encouraging them to feel accepted, we understand that incongruence can occur.

In these instances, we request that you respect the wishes of the child within your care, facilitate their worship and contact a member of your support team. We have child psychologists, therapists and health and wellbeing specialists in-house, all of whom are able to support you in times when communication can become difficult.

Ultimately, the last thing that we would want is for budding foster parents of any faith to believe that religion creates a barrier in the fostering process. We want to work together to help create a world where all people are able to make a difference to a child’s life. If you are interested, please get in touch today.

If you feel that CFS Fostering are the agency to support you in changing a child’s life for the better, please get in touch with our expert team today on 01204 704777 or on info@cfscare.co.uk.