AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into the decision by a council in England to break up a foster care family because the parents are members of the UK Independence Party.
Three foster children were removed from the care of an unnamed couple after social workers employed by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council raised concerns about the “racist” views of the parents’ political party.
The council said it had to consider the long-term needs of the children, whom it said were “not indigenous white British”.
But council leader Roger Stone confirmed yesterday that the Labour-led authority would carry out an inquiry into the order. It came after a flood of criticism, with foster care body BAAF, Education Secretary Michael Gove and Labour leader Ed Miliband all attacking the move.
The South Yorkshire couple, who have fostered about a dozen children over seven years, were eight weeks into the placement when the children were taken away. They reportedly claimed a social worker told them UKIP, which has campaigned for stricter immigration controls, was “racist”.
The three youngsters are European migrants and were happy with the couple, Rotherham Council has said.
UKIP’s immigration policy states that it wants an “end [to] the active promotion of the doctrine of multiculturalism by local and national government”..
The carers, who are in their 50s, said they had been left feeling “stigmatised and slandered”. The wife alleged a social worker had told her: “We would not have placed these children with you had we known you were members of UKIP because it wouldn’t have been the right cultural match.”
Stone said Rotherham Council would investigate to ensure everything had been done professionally.
Attempting to justify its decision, Joyce Thacker, the council’s strategic director of children and young people’s services, pointed out that the placement was never meant to be a long-term arrangement.
She said: “The children have been in care proceedings before and the judge had previously criticised us for not looking after the children’s cultural and ethnic needs, and we have had to really take that into consideration with the placement that they were in.”
The BAAF said it was “extremely unusual” for foster children to be removed on such grounds. John Simmonds, director of policy and practice, said: “Any local authority plan for a child should be agreed in review meetings and thoroughly discussed with foster carers, with their views taken into account.
“It would be extremely unusual for a foster carer’s political views to play any part in this decision-making, unless there was direct evidence that these views were detrimental to the care of the child.”
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, meanwhile, hit out at the decision, accusing Rotherham Council of bigotry. He said: “[I’m] very upset and very angry, particularly for the couple involved, who have been fostering for many years and are very decent people, and the awful shock to them of having these children removed, not to mention the upset to the children themselves.”
Gove branded the move “indefensible” and promised to personally investigate the issue. He said: “We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families.”
Miliband said:“Right-thinking people across the country will think there are thousands of children who need to be looked after, who need fostering. We shouldn’t have the situation where membership of a party like UKIP excludes you from doing that.”