Much excitement over the case of what seems to be blatant political bias in a child protection case in Rotherham. And there is an oddity in all this around culture and the manner in which we treat its significance during child protection cases. Indeed, it does seem that this is the central reason for the decision that Rotherham took in that they:
"...were severely criticised by the courts in terms of not meeting their cultural and ethnic needs."
And because UKIP has been critical of inward migration from East Europe, the council took the children away from the UKIP supporting foster parents. The rest - emergency placement, crass comments about UKIP's policies and so forth - is just spin (albeit bad spin).
We should also note that the parliamentary by-election in Rotherham provides great cover for the Labour politician who leads on Children & Families - under the daft 'purdah' rules council press during elections doesn't allow for politicians to be quoted or featured.
The interesting bit in all this, however, relates to what we understand by the term 'multi-cultural' or 'multiculturalism'. It does seem that the default social work interpretation is for 'cultural and ethnic needs' to be met through preference for a placement in the same culture. This seems to me more akin to apartheid than 'multiculturalism'. Surely in a multicultural society placements should be blind to the culture of the foster parent but attuned to the need for children to 'access' their birth culture.
It is this that worries me and, indeed, the manner in which the courts have pontificated on 'cultural and ethnic needs' without asking what that might mean in practice. With the result that we trip into the left-wing mind set of the social worker - UKIP are 'extreme right wing' ergo UKIP are racist. And the result of this is that some kids lives are messed about, a good couple (in the true meaning of that term) are upset and po-faced council folk litter the airwaves with obfuscatory explanations for their crass decisions.
The first question we should be asking in child protection is around safety not culture or ethnicity. And the second question we should ask in about stability but culture or ethnicity. Only once the child is in a safer and more stable place should we be considering culture and ethnicity. It appears that this is not the case - culture and ethnicity are made paramount and children are suffering for this reason.
Finally an observation. Would it not have been refreshing if the Council Director had said something like:
We got this wrong and can only apologise for the upset caused. Of course we shouldn't make fostering decisions on the basis of potential foster parents' political opinions. We will be speaking to the social workers responsible to ensure that this doesn't happen again and I will be personally visiting the couple concerned to express our sincere apologies.
Not going to happen though is it!