CONFLICT in Iraq and Afghanistan has led to a dramatic rise in the numbers of asylum-seeking Muslim children needing foster care in England, a leading independent fostering agency has said.
Pathway Care Group said a dramatic 500% rise in Muslim children needing care was linked to the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan which has seen children fleeing conflict and seeking asylum here.
The number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children from an Asian background in foster care in England in 2003 was 140.
That figure rose dramatically to 720 this year, leading the agency to urge British Muslim families to consider fostering.
Pathway said it was eager to ensure that these children who come into its care are placed with families who can offer the appropriate cultural, ethnic, religious, and linguistic support.
Peter Harlock, Pathway’s chief executive, said: “There has been a substantial increase in the number of Afghanistan and Iraqi lone asylum seeking children from Asian Muslim backgrounds requiring foster care, which has generated a need for many more Asian-heritage foster carers particularly in major towns and cities.
“It’s vitally important for the development of foster children to provide them with a good home with the appropriate cultural, ethnic, religious, and language background. This benefits the welfare of the child and the foster carer, and improves the prospects for a successful placement.
“Because there’s a particular shortage of Asian Muslim foster carers, it means that children are often placed in a family which doesn’t reflect their cultural heritage.
“Placing children with foster carers from a broadly similar background allows children to grow up with a sense of personal, cultural and religious identity and helps them to develop self-esteem,” he added.
Children who arrive in the UK unaccompanied are by law automatically placed into foster or residential care until they turn 18.
For more information about fostering visit the Pathway Care website at www.pathwaycare.com or telephone 01527 834 934.