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UKIP’s Foster Care “Scandal”

There’s a stench in the air, the stench of opportunism. Rotherham Borough Council’s decision to remove foster kids from a couple on the grounds they are UKIP members has caused something of a stir this. Farage has been dribbling his outrage over the airwaves, describing it as “typical of the bigotry you get from the Labour Party and Labour-controlled councils.” Gove has now waded in and said there will be an investigation on top of one hastily announced by the Borough Council itself.

You could be forgiven for thinking there’s a by-election on.

Let’s get the established facts out of the way first. The children, who are from BME backgrounds, were apparently removed because the head of the council’s Children and Young People’s Services, Joyce Thacker, felt obligated by the law to ensure their cultural and “ethnic needs” were met. While not believing UKIP are a racist party, their forthright views on immigration and multiculturalism were suspect enough for her to take action.

While it would be tempting to read this through the filter of authoritarian do-gooding – a view UKIP are certainly pushing – the decision taken by Thacker and her department has to be seen in the context we find ourselves.

These last ten years there has been a drip-drip of high profile child protection scandals. Baby P. Victoria Climbie. Khyra Ishaq. Each of these appalling cases showed up frightening failings in social services departments, which prompted press attacks on the social work profession generally and changes to the law. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, there is a particularly febrile atmosphere in Britain right now thanks to Jimmy Savile’s exposure as a serial child sex offender and the subsequent fall out.

It was a case of Rotherham Children and Young People’s Services being damned if they did act. And damned if they didn’t. Surely it is right and proper for the inquiries to now take their course. After all, most people pontificating on this now aren’t child care professionals, least of all Gove, Farage, and the permanently outraged of Twitterland.

This article was first published at A Very Public Sociologist. Phil tweets as @PhilBC3.


  1. Freyda says:

    What keeps being forgotten is this was an emergency placement not long term fostering. Big thing made out of them caring for the children well, and so they should as responsible carers. I am a bit concerned however that these people had the children calling them mum and dad, (as it said in one paper), when they would have to move on soon anyway.
    I wonder if they were even approved as long term carers if they specialised in emergency placement. Given other factors, such as their age, reported to be in late 50s but don’t know for a fact, they may not have been considered as long term carers for such small children any way. We do not know if there was contact with parents and any plans towards them going back home eventually, and if not being put up for adoption (making the mummy/daddy thing more concerning if true and not press hype).
    What really is annoying is the way it is being reported as splitting a foster family up when it was ending a short term placement. Neither were these people stopped from fostering It is a massive storm in a teacup whipped up for political reasons. If the foster couple think they have been treated unfairly, that should have been a matter between them and the local authority to sort out, and not turned into a witch hunt like this. I think they need to look at their own actions in bringing this into the public arena.
    Seems to me however, that the script has already been written with the roles of heroes and villains cast.

  2. Gary Elsby says:

    Surely we should be taking away children from Labour members who think rigging selections (and therfore the outcome) is a role model for children to adhere to?

  3. Rob the cripple says:

    No matter how you put this, it was wrong and the Council were wrong and the council walked into it blind folded ready for the marksmen.

    It was stupid it does not matter if they were black Asian or disabled they were placed and they were removed because of a political reason.

  4. Martin says:

    The kids shouldn’t have been taken away. There was no evidence that the kids were treated in any way bad. And the article mentions the kids’ “cultural and ethnic needs”. What needs are they?

  5. frances472 says:

    Haven’t these poor children suffered enough? As a further violation of their well-being, they have now been split up and placed in two different homes. It’s intolerable.

    Removing children abruptly from a stable, loving home for ideological reasons is state-sponsored child abuse.

    The grief, confusion and emotional/developmental damage this will cause to already vulnerable children takes my breath away. What chance will they have to grow into productive adulthood under this foolish, toxic system?

    Why can’t these agencies understand that the bond between children and carers needs to be protected and safe-guarded, like an umbilical cord, and not casually broken and reconnected to others?

    That should be the social worker’s first imperative not specious ideological concerns that simply mask the brutal authoritarian nature of this council.

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