Creating a culturally safe environment for children in foster care
On an average day, there are up to 1,700 children and young people in foster care in Victoria. Many of these children come from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
Children from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds in foster care may be from refugee or asylum speaker backgrounds, speak English as a second language, or follow a different faith. That’s why it is so important that foster carers are able to encourage and support connection to culture for children in care.
Victoria is home to one of the most culturally diverse societies in Australia and in the world. Of Victoria's total population (2016 census):
- 28.4% were born overseas in over 200 countries
- 49.1% were born overseas or born in Australia with at least one parent born overseas
- 26% spoke a language other than English at home
- 59% followed one of more than 130 different faiths
Why is it important?
Children in care who are supported to maintain a connection to their culture, religion and language are able to develop their sense of belonging and identity and therefore have better outcomes as they grow up.
Helping children remain connected to their culture can also help children have a positive transition back to their birth parents and community.
Alek * was from a Greek background and spent time in foster care. His foster carers did not identify as Greek however were committed to supporting him to celebrate his culture at home, and within his community. His carers integrated Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations and other family traditions in their home. With approval from the foster care agency, they scheduled a visit for Alek and his grandparents to celebrate Greek Easter. Alek was also supported in attending a weekly Orthodox Greek youth group so that he could connect with mentors and other young people his age in his local community.
Nabia* identified as Muslim and spent time in foster care. She was placed with foster carers who were a great match and also identified as Muslim. Her foster carers were able to support her in fasting during Ramadan and Nadia was also supported to attend an Islamic school near their home so that she could continue her connection to culture across all dimensions of care.
How can foster carers support children, young people and families from culturally diverse backgrounds?
There are many ways to provide support, including:
- Being welcoming, approachable, and open-minded to learning new traditions and practices
- Taking time to educate yourself on their history and culture
- Connecting with multicultural communities and events in your area
- Creating space to have open conversations with the child or young person should they wish to share their experiences (following consultation with your agency)
- Inviting a child or young person to share and incorporate their family or cultural traditions with your household e.g. through food, music or entertainment
- Finding diverse ways to connect with culture whether it be activities in the home, in education, or out in the community
- Seeking support and asking for help from your agency – you are never alone in how you approach to support a child or young person to feel culturally safe during their time with you.
Interested in becoming a foster carer?
Fostering Connections welcomes carers from all backgrounds including culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Children and young people in care benefit from being supported by diverse carers who can ensure their experience in care is welcoming, inclusive and culturally appropriate.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer, call 1800 013 088 or enquire today.