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Volume 79: debated on Tuesday 21 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what guidelines he issues to local authorities regarding the racial criteria to be used in the placement of children for fostering; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 16 May 1985, c. 226.]: The most suitable foster placement for a child is a matter of professional judgement and depends on the individual needs of the particular child. The racial, cultural and religious background of a child and of the foster parents is one element which the local authority needs to consider when deciding on a placement. This is referred to in the guide to fostering practice which was published by the Department in 1976 and in most respects still represents current professional practice. The statutory requirements governing the fostering of children in their care by local authorities are contained in the Boarding-Out of Children Regulations 1955 which are presently under review. We welcome the recent campaigns by local authorities and voluntary agencies to encourage applications from the ethnic minorities to come forward as prospective foster parents.