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1.5 Caring for Children from Minority Ethnic Groups

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Also see: Promoting Diversity Policy.


Contents 

  1. Creating the Right Culture
  2. Racist Behaviour
  3. Open Discussion
  4. Identity
  5. Primary Care
  6. Minorities
  7. Children's Religion
  8. Prayers and Fasting
  9. Medical Implications of Religious Background


1. Creating the Right Culture

In order to achieve this level of care, the culture must be one where children of all races are valued equally and no form of racism or 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 home is one in which racial, religious and cultural differences are respected and explored.


2. 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 other young people and staff 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 are considered as a disciplinary matter.

Racist language or behaviour can be viewed as another form of bullying and therefore this policy must read in conjunction with Countering Bullying and Peer Abuse Procedure.


3. Open Discussion

We embrace differences as positive and enriching. We take all reasonable steps to encourage staff and children to voice their thoughts, opinions and feelings in such a way that leads to understanding and mutual respect.

Inevitably feelings of difference form a significant part of these discussions. Where this occurs, children 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 our 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 may 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. Children are encouraged to gain knowledge and appreciation of different races through educational, 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 we are proud of these differences. The group living experience provides opportunities to share and celebrate our differences.


4. 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. We respect the dignity and individuality of each child, with due regard for these factors as well as promoting equal respect to others regardless of gender, disability and sexual orientation. It is the right of the young people to determine their sense of self and not have it imposed upon them by others. We recognised that for many young people their time with us will coincide with a period of wishing to belong more to a peer subgroup than with a socially identified cultural, religious, or ethnic group. We respect these associations as long as they do not have negative impact on the wellbeing of young people.

The provision of day to day care 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 keyworker's 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 ancestry, 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.


5. 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 Placement 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 religious requirements, and that children have ready access to appropriate skin and hair care and the correct advice about the use of make up.


6. Minorities

It is recognised that belonging to a minority in a society brings with it particular stresses.

All the children are helped to reflect on this as they are helped to process instances where they have felt different from a bigger group.

Most children who live in our 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 some children may come from birth families who have found it difficult to fit in and have been marginalised by mainstream society; these experiences of being 'outside' have often been compounded by multiple placement moves and experiences of rejection.

Some of these experiences will have ethnic, religious and cultural components and part of the treatment methodology is to recognise the various components of these experiences of being in the minority.


7. 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, items, 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


8. Prayers and Fasting

Where special privacy is needed in order to pray during the course of the day or night consideration will be given to how best to provide this, whilst also considering the impact on other children and the group as a whole. Suitable food will be provided for consumption in the night time during events such as Ramadan when daytime fasting in observed.


9. 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. However, at all times the welfare of the child will be paramount and the views of the young person will be given due deference. No action determined to be illegal under UK law will be permitted. Efforts will be made with the social worker to obtain written information with regard to the health rules of any particular religion unfamiliar to the home or any medical health rules proposed and legal advice will be sought if necessary.

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