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Wednesday, 06 September 2017

Children's 'cultural heritage' must be considered in care placement - judge

Written by Brian Farmer

Council social workers may not be able to find carers who are an "ethnic match" for five children taken from home in the wake of concern about their parents' drug abuse, a family court judge has said.

But social services bosses at Derbyshire County Council have told Judge Clifford Bellamy that they are alive to the importance of finding placements in which the youngsters' "cultural heritage" is "respected and promoted".

Judge Bellamy (pictured) said the children have a "white British" mother and fathers who are "Pakistani/British".

Detail of the case has emerged in a ruling delivered by the judge following a private family court hearing in Derby.

The ruling has been published days after the case of a five-year-old London girl made headlines as a result of her being placed with foster carers who were not a cultural match. The girl's mother said her family had a Christian heritage and told a family court judge that she was concerned because the foster carers were Muslim.

Judge Khatun Sapnara said social workers at Tower Hamlets Council placed the girl with foster carers on an emergency basis as a result of police exercising powers of protection.

She said there had been ''no culturally matched foster placement'' available at the time.

Judge Sapnara said the case had a complex history and background.

The girl's mother said her family had a Christian heritage but the judge said there was evidence that the mother's parents had a Muslim background.

Judge Bellamy said the "dual heritage" of the five youngsters at the centre of his case would have to be taken into account when Derbyshire Council social workers searched for carers.

"The children's dual heritage is an important factor which plainly must be taken into account in family finding," said the judge.

"Although it may not be possible to find an ethnic match, the local authority is alive to the importance of finding placements in which the children's cultural heritage will be acknowledged, respected and promoted."

He added: "The need to factor in the children's dual heritage in the matching process is a given."

Judge Bellamy has yet to approve final care plans for the five children.

The judge said family court litigation had started after police raided the family home and found drugs.

He said the children's parents had a long history of using drugs, including crack cocaine.

Judge Bellamy said the family could not be identified in media reports.

He said children were aged between 10-years old and five months.

They had the same mother. One man was the father of the eldest child and another the father of the younger four.

Judge Bellamy said the whereabouts of the father of the eldest child were unknown and he had played no part in proceedings.

The judge indicated that the children had lived with their mother and the father of the younger four children.

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