Late last month, the Times made some rather astounding claims that Tower Hamlets council had placed a five-year-old white, British Christian girl into the care of a niqab-wearing Muslim family who didn’t speak English. As a qualified children’s social worker with more than 20 years’ experience, I suspected the story was exaggerated. My suspicions were confirmed within the next few days as the council claimed there were numerous errors in the reporting of the case and a court order was published.
For the last two years, I’ve managed an adoption and fostering recruitment project for the Penny Appeal. We’ve had more than 250 applicants from all over the UK in the past six months. The project targets Muslim adopters and foster carers because our preliminary research found that of the 3,000 Muslim children entering foster care every year, approximately half spend time living in non-Muslim homes. In fact, our research found that of the 70 Muslim children placed into foster care by Tower Hamlets in 2015, 14 were placed into non-Muslim homes. Our concerns about the availability of Muslim carers was shared by the Department for Education, which provided £200,000 in December 2016 to expand our the project.