Two-thirds of councils in England have a shortage of Black, Asian and minority ethnic foster carers. In Brighton & Hove, as more children from ethnic backgrounds come into care, the Council are urging people from Black, Asian and mixed-race communities to consider becoming foster carers. Identity is important for all children but it is particularly crucial for Black, Asian and minority ethnic children placed in foster care to grow up understanding their roots and their culture.
In Brighton & Hove, there is a shortage of foster carers with the same cultural or ethnic background as the children coming into care, which means that children from Black and Asian communities will often be placed with foster carers from a different background. Black and Asian foster carers are often well placed to help foster children from the same background, as they can help these children to develop a sense of pride and achievement and to make better sense of their history and identity.
Stella Letanka-Jeffs, has been fostering for nearly six years and is one of just a handful of foster carers in the city from the Black community. “I am from a mixed-race family, Black South African and White English. My siblings and I were brought up with a genuine mix of racial input and we were taught about the history and way of living in both countries. Being taught the history of both places, and about how I connect to both places, secured my sense of self-identity and my confidence and pride in where I come from and who I am.”
Stella was also taught basic skills like how to care for her hair and skin, which is very different to white hair and skin.
“I could have found all this out by reading books or by watching YouTube, but seeing and experiencing it all first-hand really helped me to learn and embed it into my everyday life.”
Stella says; “Brighton and surrounding areas are always sold as being so diverse, but racially it is much less diverse than people think. Currently there are a large number of black and mixed race children being cared for by white carers, all of whom are great, but it would be even better if we could make more cultural matches for young people and help them to experience all aspects of their culture with people who have had the same experiences. We need more Black and mixed race carers to step forward. The children need our input and expertise from experiences of race and racism, through to the simple things like skin and hair care. Being a foster carer really is an amazing job, and I care because I know that we can give the children the safe, secure, happy early start to life they really deserve.”
Cathy Seiderer, the council’s Fostering Recruitment and Assessment Manager, says: “We want our fostering community to represent the diversity of the city and that means attracting more foster carers from Black, Asian, mixed-race communities. We have a wonderful community of fantastic foster carers and we want to reach out and appeal to the whole community of Brighton & Hove and surrounding areas to encourage them to find out more about fostering for their local authority. You really can make such a difference to a young person’s life.”
Brighton and Hove is a vibrant, multicultural city with a diverse population of children in care and it is essential that our population of foster carers reflect this diversity. Some young people in care are unaccompanied asylum seekers and Muslim and, as with all children who are fostered, it is important that they have carers who best suit their needs.
If you would like to make a difference as a foster carer, we’d love to hear from you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a phone call
or visit www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk and follow the enquiry link.
The team are holding fortnightly virtual information sessions via Microsoft Teams.