opinion

Black Lives Matter: Child Protection and Child Placement

  • Date:

The death of George Floyd and the international response through ‘Black Lives Matter’ has confronted many countries with the reality of racism rooted in the shocking history of colonialism. This is very clearly the case in the UK. There is no doubt that while these are not new experiences, the strength of emotion indicates whatever changes may have taken place over the years, there are still a wide range of fundamental racist attitudes and beliefs that continue to negatively impact on the lives of black people and indeed many others from minority ethnic communities.

Whilst the protests themselves are understandably adult-focused, the issues are life-long and include the significant and serious impact and consequences for children. It is essential that the experiences and perspectives of children run equally alongside those of adults and the issues for black and other minority ethnic children are particularly highlighted in the child protection and child placement sector. 

The focus on children must run in parallel with a full consideration being given to the carers of these children – whether adopters, foster carers or special guardians and in turn their birth family – parents, siblings and others. And alongside that must be the challenge to the workforce – particularly the views and experiences of social workers and other professionals from the black and other minority ethnic communities.

CoramBAAF is committed to ensuring that our Black members of staff and associates are supported through policies and open dialogue that addresses institutional and systemic racism and discrimination.

As a provider of high quality advice, training, consultation and publications, we will continue to promote the needs of Black and minority ethnic children and young people in the child protection and child placement sector alongside those whose responsibility it is to care, plan and work within the sector.

Through facilitation of groups in which discussions of life-long personal and professional experiences of racism and discrimination is an intrinsic part, we will consult with members and forums to support dissemination of this invaluable knowledge through training and advice to the wider social work profession. By doing so we will, in turn, improve the quality of care and planning provided to Black and minority ethnic children and young people.

There is much more that can be said about the wellbeing of Black and minority ethnic children and staff as they have developed over time in adoption, fostering and social work. What it is difficult to be confident about is the degree to which these questions have been addressed that provide a positive answer to the question ‘Do Black Lives Matter?’. The sector faces many serious challenges in its focus on the needs, safety, welfare and development of children from the Coronavirus pandemic. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement challenges the sector with equally important issues and these must be addressed with the equal priority that they need.

We are making this issue a priority to be addressed through discussion and evidence with the aim of setting out a change agenda that we hope will have the support of the child protection and child placement sector. If you are a CoramBAAF member, please get involved in the conversation by joining us at one of our forthcoming Practice Forum meetings. Members can also access the latest Practice Note ‘Black Lives Matter’: Implications for the family placement sector that sets out what is required if the family placement sector is to do things better as well as providing a summary of the available data in relation to ethnicity and family placement and an extensive resource list to support practice.