Denmark: Immigrant foster families last to get children

Denmark: Immigrant foster families last to get children

It seems to me this article is mixing up two different issues:
1. Should a Danish child be placed for foster care in a non-Danish family, if there are Danish families available? 
2. Are there enough immigrant foster families to care for immigrant children?  Should an immigrant child be placed in a Danish family, if there are immigrant families available? 


Foster parents of immigrant background must wait longer to get a child.  The experience of the Copenhagen municipality shows that foreign foster families are often last in line, because the case handlers are not prepared to place Danish children with families of another ethnic or religious background.

This happens despite the fact that the families were assessed and approved just like all other foster families and said they are also interested in taking Danish children and are prepared to make special consideration for the child's Danish culture.

Mette Larsen, anthropologist and project head at the Knowledge Center for Foster Care, says that these are families who speak fluent Danish and who besides being able to offer a safe environment are ready that the Danish children will not go along, for example, to the mosque, or participate in Koran education.  Yet, they wait often longer to get a child than ethnic Danish families.

She recently completed a study of ethnic foster children and families in Copenhagen.

Municipalities all over the country have had a shortage of foster families for children of an ethnic minority background in recent years.  This also means that more foreign children than Danish are placed in institutions rather than foster families.

Therefore the board of Social Services is now launching a national campaign to recruit more foster families - not least among families of foreign background.

The question is whether the Danish system is ready to accept the help of ethnic foster parents, says Mette Larsen.

She says that before we start a large-scale recruitment drive and ask people to offer their families, we should look at our own practices and consider whether we are ready to accept their help.  Otherwise we risk them coming without being given tasks.

Ethnic families want to take in foster children.  An intensive informative campaign in Copenhagen showed that the number of foster families of foreign background has grown explosively in just six years.

In 2002 only two families of foreign background were approved - today the municipality approved 22 foster families of non-Western background and 15 families of a different Western background.

Interview with older foster children shows, at the same time, that the ethnicity of foster families is not crucial for most, as long as the child has the opportunity to keep to his mother tongue.

Metter Larsen says that for years children of a different ethnic minority background were placed by ethnic Danish families, though they couldn't support the children in keeping their mother tongue and thereby having contacts with their biological family.  This isn't the case here.  Yet we hesitate when it comes to ethnic Danish children.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

See also:
* Denmark: Problem finding foster families
* Copenhagen: 90% of children removed from home are immigrants

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