LOVING HOME: Black and mixed race children are over-represented in the care system
A NEW scheme that offers a £1,000 incentive to individuals, couples or families to act as foster parents has been criticised by a leading charity ambassador.
The Find 40 Families scheme, launched by Southwark Council in south-east London, aims to gain the help and cooperation of black churches, faith groups and schools to find permanent homes for 21 boys and 19 girls in the borough.
Council bosses believe the cash incentive will attract more people to adopt as part of a push to get black children into loving homes.
Between March 2012 and March 2013, only 16 per cent of the 67,000 children in council care in England who were adopted came from a black or ethnic minority background.
CONCERNS: Charity ambassador David Akinsanya
But David Akinsanya, an ambassador for adoption and fostering charity PACT and a former presenter of Channel 4 TV series Find Me A Family voiced concerns about the move.
He told The Voice: “I’m worried that such incentives will attract the wrong type of people. The best carers want to look after children for the love of it, and in the end you can never be fully recompensed [with money] for the effort and time you give.”
Akinsanya also believes the move highlights a care system that is worse than it was when he was brought up in a children’s home in the 1970s and 80s, a situation that makes it increasingly hard for young people in care to have a settled lifestyle.
TAKING ACTION: Councillor Dora Dixon-Fyle
“We were better cared for in the care home” he said. “We at least had continuity of care. The Government has shut down the care homes and has been pushing for more and more foster parents, but it takes a particular type of person who is suitable for that role. And kids often get pushed from pillar to post.”
However Councillor Dora Dixon-Fyle, cabinet member for children’s services, at Southwark Council defended the council’s introduction of the scheme.
She said: “We have 40 children from the community at any one time looking for a permanent, loving home. We don’t want to wait for adopters to come to us. We want to make direct contact to reach these community groups and get them discussing adoption directly.”
According to the latest ONS statistics, black children are over-represented in the “in need” category.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to reverse a ban on trans-racial adoption, whereby social workers will no longer have to take a child's cultural background into account when finding them a new home.
In response to the article, a Southwark Council spokeswoman said: “The programme has nothing to do with fostering and it is strictly focused on adoption. The cash incentives are for community groups, such as churches, in order for them to encourage more people to consider adopting a child. As per standard, stringent checks will be made on each person who wants to adopt a child. Anyone who has an ulterior motive will be found out.”