This was a half-day training for foster carers on fostering Muslim children. There were around 12 foster carers present, and a Social Worker, all of whom were non-Muslims. Some had fostered Muslim children in the past, some had Muslim children with them at the time, and others wanted to know what to do should a Muslim child be placed in their care.
|All parents want to bring up their children as honest, caring well-rounded individuals who are an asset to their families, their communities and to society at large.
The course covered 5 topics Dietary Needs of Muslim Children, Hygiene and Cleanliness, Sexual Health & Islamic Etiquette, Religious Education, and Festivals. As any Muslim parent will know these are just some of the practical issues which arise when raising children, but of course, the moral, spiritual and ethical guidance any parent gives to their child is something we have in common with all faiths. All parents want to bring up their children as honest, caring well-rounded individuals who are an asset to their families, their communities and to society at large.
The course involved plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion. It is vital that people understand the reasoning behind many Muslim practices, so that a number of myths which prevail due to misinformation and misunderstanding, not just on the part of non-Muslims, but amongst Muslims themselves, can be dispelled. Some of the questions asked included `How do I make a teenage girl who wears a scarf more comfortable in my home?' `Do Muslims eat tuna?' `Where can I buy vegetarian jelly?' `When I take foster children on holiday to the beach what do I do about swimming costumes for Muslim children?' `Why does the month of Ramadan fall at a different time every year?'
One has to remember that many of the children who go into care are from troubled backgrounds, and may have experienced difficult circumstances. Some are in care for a short while, so that their parents can get back on their feet, whilst others are in care for the long haul. The level of Islamic education they will have had from their home environment can vary greatly. Foster carers need to be sensitive to all these issues. The work carried out by foster carers is phenomenal and deserves to be recognised and supported. For foster carers who are looking after children from different backgrounds to their own, the challenge is even greater. One of the messages that came out of the training was that whilst there continue to be Muslim children in the care system being cared for by non-Muslims, the need for proper training and advice is crucial. And in the long term, the need for more Muslim foster carers is vital.