Last Ones to Leave: Outcomes

Last Ones to Leave: Outcomes

The Study

Beginning as a DFE / Penny Appeal funded research project, Muslim Children in Care has grown to be a larger research and impact project that seeks to improve life outcomes for Muslim children and in the long run all children in the care system. Below is a summary of the main activities conducted under this project:

  • Dec 2016 – April 2018: DFE / Penny Appeal funded research
  • Feb 2017 – Jan 2017: Collaboration with Muslim scholars to inform and support their work on developing theological guidance around Muslim children in care
  • June 2019 – Ongoing: Impact work begins to share findings of the research project with professional, policy and community audiences
  • July 2019 – Ongoing: Plans to widen the research to look at Religion or Belief in the care system

Given the way that data around looked-after children is collected, it is not possible to accurate ‘count’ the number of Muslim children in care. Using triangulation of the different data sources that are available our research approximates that there are around 4500 Muslim children in the care system in Britain, which is 6.2% of the children in care. This programme of research stems from a social and personal responsibility to better understand the lives of these children and to improve outcomes for them.

Children of Muslim heritage are likely to experience significant delay in finding a fostering or adoptive placement and where a child has complex needs due to health, disability, age, mixed or multiple heritage background or being part of a sibling group, finding permanent placement takes even longer. In some cases, they may never find a permanent home at all. Such delays cause lasting harm for children and according to Selwyn et al, ‘delay in decision making and action has an unacceptable price in terms of the reduction in children’s life chances and the financial costs to local authorities, the emotional and financial burden later placed on adoptive families and future costs to society’ (2006). Policy makers’ response has been to emphasise transracial placements so that the process of finding a permanent home is expedited for these children – but transracial placements are not unproblematic and are much debated across the sector.

Through interviews with social workers, foster carers, adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents, this research presents a research-informed narrative of the complexities in Muslim children’s circumstances and identities, which influence how decisions are made about their lives. By better understanding the journeys of these children through the care system, this research will provide an evidence base for practitioners, policy makers and communities to draw upon, and in doing so will improve outcomes for these children, their families and for society as a whole.

Further information on the study

Read the Penny Appeals Islamic Guidance on the Contemporary Practice of Adoption and Fostering in the UK.

The ongoing impact work is being led by Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor and Alison Halford.

The research report was authored by:

Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor is Research Fellow in Faith and Peaceful Relations at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK.

Alison Halford is a PhD candidate and research assistant at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University.

Savita De Sousa is co-ordinator of Coram-BAAF’s Black and Minority Ethnic Perspectives Committee (BMEPAC) and chairs the CoramBAAF Private Fostering Special Interest Groups in England.

Mphatso Boti Phiri is currently a final year PhD student at Coventry University, specializing in regionalism and leadership of peace and security in Africa.
Collaborators so far include:

  • Penny Appeal
  • CoramBAAF
  • AdoptionUK
  • HomeforGood
  • A number of local authority and volunteer sector care providers
  • 13th March 2018 – Parliamentary Roundtable run by HomeforGood on the experiences of faith in the care system
  • 21st March 2019 – Soft launch of project in the House of Lords
  • 12th September 2019 – Presentation on project findings at CoramBAAF members reception. The audience consisted of around 60 social work professionals working with local authorities and independent fostering and adoption agencies across the country. Other speakers included Isabelle Trowler, the UK Government’s Chief Social Worker for Children and Families and Dr John Simmonds, director of research at CoramBAAF
  • 8th October 2019 – Summary of research findings to CoramBAAF’s BME Perspectives Advisory Committee

Starting in October 2019, Alison Halford and Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor contractor are running a number of workshop around the findings of the project. These are being run for professional teams of social workers. They also plan to run workshops for mosque communities. Please contact them if you would like to run an event for your organisation:

  • 29th October - Rawenstall
  • 30th October - Wimslow
  • 5th November - Cannock
  • 25th November - Coventry
  • 26th November - Coventry
  • Freedom Fostering - UK's first Islamic Guidance Document on Adoption and Fostering
  • CoramBAAF - UK's first Islamic Guidance Document on Adoption and Fostering Penny Appeal
  • Brown Girl Magazine - First UK Islamic Guidance Document on Adoption and Fostering launches
  • The Conversation - Muslim foster child row shows more faith must be put in the care system
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