Religions (May 2021)

The Salience of Islam to Muslim Heritage Children’s Experiences of Identity, Family, and Well-Being in Foster Care

  • Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor,
  • Alison Halford,
  • Mphatso Boti Phiri

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12, no. 6
p. 381


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All children need permanent and secure homes in which they can explore their identities and evolve as human beings, citizens, and family members, and within which can they have a sense of security, continuity, stability, and belonging. There are approximately 4500 children of Muslim heritage in the care system in England and Wales, and this number is increasing. Using case studies that emerged from qualitative fieldwork, this article examines the role and impact of religion on children’s journeys through the care system, particularly in foster care. This article concludes that irrespective of the level of engagement Muslim heritage children in the care system have with their religious heritage, Islam has an enduring impact on how they perceive their identities. As a result, there is a pressing need for social workers and foster carers who care for these children to gain greater insights into Islam and Muslim culture. Such insights and understandings will help children settle faster and form stronger bonds of attachment with their foster carers, and in the long term, this will enhance life outcomes for these children.