Caring for Children from Minority Ethnic Groups

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

This chapter should be read in conjunction with:

Countering Bullying Procedure

Equality, Diversity and Rights Policy



Contents

  1. Creating the Right Culture
  2. Staffing
  3. Open Discussion
  4. Racist Behaviour
  5. Equipment which Reflects Racial Differences
  6. Identity
  7. Primary Care
  8. Medical Implications of Religious Background
  9. Children's Religion
  10. Prayers
  11. Staff Beliefs
  12. Extra Support


1. Creating the Right Culture

In order to achieve a level of care acceptable in Childhood First, the community culture must be one where children of all races are loved and valued equally and no form of racism (or indeed any other kind of prejudice) towards adults or children within or outside the home is acceptable or tolerated. It is the role of every staff member to ensure that this culture is engendered and maintained. Racism is not tolerated, and the culture of every community is one in which racial, religious and cultural differences are respected and explored.


2. Staffing

Where possible the aim is (within the equal opportunities legislation) to create a balanced staff team, reflecting differences in wider society as well as the current children's group. Staff are encouraged to raise any concerns about anti-discriminatory practice issues during supervision. These issues will be fed into the training and supervision structures to help develop an anti-racist culture within the home.


3. Open Discussion

Childhood First communities embrace differences as positive and enriching. The treatment methodology at Childhood First involves a network of meetings and discussions where everyone is encouraged to air their thoughts, opinions and feelings. Inevitably feelings of difference form a significant part of these discussions. All the children in a community are helped to reflect on this as they are helped to process instances where they have felt different and may have been subject to others' prejudice. Most children who live in Childhood First homes have very acute feelings of being outside a group, for various reasons, but particularly because they are living away from their families and outside the mainstream of society. In addition to this many children come originally from families who have found it difficult to fit in and have lived on the margins of society; these experiences of being 'outside' have often been compounded by multiple placement moves and experiences of rejection. Some of these experiences will have racial, ethnic, religious and cultural components. In any case everyone is capable of really understanding the feelings of prejudice, of being judged before somebody has taken the trouble to get to know you, just on the surface information they have. This topic of discussion runs through all the daily meetings and is not merely placed on an agenda every now and then. This appreciation of everyone's differences integrated into the culture goes someway to combating racism. Children are encouraged to raise any concerns about racism individually with a member of staff or in the wider meetings. They will be supported in doing so. Children are encouraged to gain knowledge and appreciation of different races through education, sports, drama, musical, visual and culinary arts. They are supported in sharing and exploring these values with one another. The group living experience offers a great opportunity to understand the beliefs and culture of those from a different race and Childhood First is proud of these differences and provides opportunities to share and celebrate.


4. Racist Behaviour

Racist behaviour is not tolerated, and any instance of racist language or behaviour will be dealt with swiftly and firmly. The perpetrator will be informed that it is unacceptable, will be required to make some reparation where possible and the subject will be discussed with the community at the earliest opportunity. This goes for adults as well as children; it is vital that all staff act as positive role models to young people. Racist acts by staff will be considered as a disciplinary matter. Racist language or behaviour can be viewed as a form of bullying.


5. Equipment which Reflects Racial Differences

Communities are equipped with toys, posters, games, books, and videos positively reflect a multi-cultural society. All staff must take responsibility for noticing, renewing and using such resources. Staff must take opportunities to inform young people about different cultures by use of videos, toys, books, food and menu planning.


6. Identity

In order to reach this potential, great store is set by each child's individuality and identity in terms of their history, experience, racial origin, ethnicity, religious belief and cultural and linguistic background. Childhood First staff respect the dignity and privacy of each child with due regard for these factors as well as gender and disability. The group treatment methodology, Integrated Systemic Therapy (IST) while respecting privacy and individual choice about what to discuss publically, does encourage a culture where feelings about difference are discussed on a daily basis. These discussions help individual children to explore their individuality and identity.

The highly participative methodology ensures that the needs and wishes of all young people are ascertained, respected and met wherever possible, particularly bearing in mind ethnic, religious and cultural factors. Individual time with Key/Linkworkers and other staff as well as frequent group meetings ensure that staff are able to keep abreast of developing needs and wishes. It is the role of all staff to support all young people to recognise and feel pride in their ethnic origin so that they are able to carry a sense of history and of their roots, both of which are important in forming a positive identity. Significant discussions will be recorded as appropriate so that Care Plans can be suitably adjusted and parents and social workers can be included.


7. Primary Care

Efforts are taken to ascertain the family experience of each child including cultural factors in terms of moral values, behavioural norms, lifestyle and artistic pursuits. It is recognised that shared religious belief, ethnic background, language, history or economic background sometimes lead to similar cultural norms and expectations. However staff are careful not to make assumptions about these. Individual Care Plans reflect cultural, religious and ethnic requirements in terms of care. Cultural, racial, ethnic and religious expectations regarding the choice of clothes, food and personal requisites are supported and actively promoted. This includes ensuring that there is choice within daily menus reflecting different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and that children have ready access to appropriate skin and hair care including make up.  


8. Medical Implications of Religious Background

Where a religion or religious sect prohibits certain forms of medical treatment or requires disfiguring or disabling operative or mutilating treatment, a balance needs to be reached between a parent's legal rights and responsibilities, the relevant authority' s view of the young person's best interests and the views of those who know the young person well. Efforts will be made through the social worker to obtain written information with regard to health rules of any particular religion or any medical health rules proposed and, if necessary, legal advice will be sought.

Also see:


9. Children's Religion

Children are encouraged and given the opportunity to practice cultural, religious or ethnic customs and characteristics without interference or prejudice to others. Where religious practices require special clothing or special diet children are properly equipped and advice is sought from either the young person's family or local religious leaders, where necessary. They are enabled to celebrate their own religious festivals and assisted in understanding and acknowledging the religious festivals of others. It is recognised that it is natural that some young people may express doubt about continuing their religious beliefs or practices; whilst having regard for their wishes, it is important that they are helped to recognise and discuss their choices and the implications for their relationships with their family and community.


10. Prayers

Where special privacy is needed in order to pray during the course of the day consideration will be given to how best to provide this, whilst also considering the impact on other children and the group as a whole.


11. Staff Beliefs

Childhood First is not a religious organisation and staff should keep their beliefs private and never make any attempt to convert or persuade a child to or from a particular religion or to or from religion in general.

Great efforts are taken to try to build a staff group which reflects the make-up of the children's group. However it is fully recognised that due to factors often beyond our control the gender and racial balance in our staff teams do not always reflect those of the children we care for. Being aware of this, whilst also endeavouring to change this situation means that staff teams can make extra efforts to enable children to have access to other people beyond the staff group to ensure they have sufficient experience of people beyond the sometimes narrow make up (female, young, white, British, Christian or non-religious) of our staff teams. Independent visitors invited into the home as well as extra curricular activities in the wider community (e.g. dance, drama, sport, etc) are part of these efforts. Staff also talk to parents and specialist organisations to find out about areas which they are not expert in.


12. Extra Support

The Childhood First methodology includes creative therapies and everyday opportunities as part of the therapeutic technique as well as understanding the significance of non verbal and symbolic communication. However, it is also true that the therapy of the groups is largely language based and therefore, where English is not the child's first language, any extra help required to enable the child to participate fully in the process will be provided.

Support will be provided for children who are refugees or asylum seekers. Such help will be tailored to fit the child's particular circumstances, and Childhood First will use the advice of specialist agencies where necessary.