A white Christian child was taken from her family and forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer in a home where she was allegedly encouraged to learn Arabic. The five-year-old girl, a native English speaker, has spent the past six months in the care of two Muslim households in London. The foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family, by the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets.
In confidential local authority reports seen by The Times, a social services supervisor describesthe child sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster carer’s home because “they don’t speak English”.
The reports state that the supervisor heard the girl, who at times was “very distressed”, claiming that the foster carer removed her necklace, which had a Christian cross, and also suggested that she should learn Arabic.
It is understood that the child told her mother that when she was given her favourite Italian food to take home, the foster carer would not allow her to eat it because the carbonara meal contained bacon.
And more recently the girl told her that ‘Christmas and Easter are stupid’ and that ‘European women are stupid and alcoholic’,
The two placements were made by the scandal-hit Tower Hamlets borough council against the wishes of the girl’s family.
Local authorities are required to give due consideration to a child’s religion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background’ when placing them into a foster home.
To protect the child, The Times has chosen not to identify her or the unusual circumstances that led to her being taken into care earlier this year. Children can be taken into foster care when the parents are good and loving, for example if they are taken ill with a long-term illness and the council doesn’t think that any other relatives are suitable. Grandparents often struggle to convince council officials that they are still fit enough to cope with a young child, despite their often being the family childminders while fit parents work, and despite the government decree that we older generation are now fit enought to work outside the home until nearly 70 before we receive our state pension that we have paid for since our teens. This isn’t necessarily the case here; it was the situation in several instances that I know of elsewhere.
The girl’s mother is said to be horrified by the circumstances her daughter has been placed in.
A friend told the newspaper: ‘This is a five-year-old white girl. She was born in this country, speaks English as her first language, loves football, holds a British passport and was christened in a church.
‘She’s already suffered the huge trauma of being forcibly separated from her family. She needs surroundings in which she’ll feel secure. Instead, she’s trapped in a world where everything feels foreign and unfamiliar. That’s really scary for a young child.’
The girl lived with her first carer, who is believed to have worn a niqab outside the family home, for four months. Her current carer wears a burka, which covers her face entirely, when she is out in public with the child.
In April this year, an Ofsted inspection at Tower Hamlets council found ‘widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection’. The council’s children’s service was rated as inadequate and found to have an ‘entrenched culture of non-compliance with basic social work standards’.
Tower Hamlets refused to respond to requests to explain why it had chosen to place a white, English-speaking Christian child with Muslim foster carers, including one household where she was unable to understand the language spoken by the family.
Tower Hamlets declined to reveal how many cross-cultural foster placements it was overseeing. The council also refused to say whether it had a shortage of white British foster carers. It cited confidentiality obligations and accused The Times of putting at risk the stability of a vulnerable child’s foster placement and schooling.