Mum at centre of foster care row criticises decision to remove children from her home

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A FOSTER carer who had three children taken away from her when social workers were told she was a member of the UK Independence Party has spoken exclusively to The Star.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identify of the children, claims the three European migrants were removed from her care because Rotherham Council had concerns about UKIP’s stance on immigration.

The youngsters were eight weeks into a foster placement with the woman and her husband when social workers questioned the carers over their membership of UKIP and moved the children - a baby girl, a boy and an older girl - in with alternative foster families.

Today the foster mum at the heart of the row said there was never any discussion between her family and Rotherham Council before the youngsters were taken away, which Rotherham Council’s Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Joyce Thacker, claimed.

The mum said: “Joyce Thacker stated there had been discussions between Rotherham Borough Council and ourselves prior to removing the children. I would like to state categorically that no discussions took place.

”The decision, which I believe was made by the then head of Safeguarding and Child Protection, was made prior to social workers visiting us to inform us that the children were being removed because we were UKIP members.

“Had discussions indeed taken place between ourselves and Rotherham Borough Council, which we would have welcomed, this situation could have been resolved without it going this far,

“Joyce Thacker referred to us as carers not being able to meet the cultural needs of these children in the long term. My argument here is that we feel that we were meeting the cultural needs of these children - we were actively encouraging these children to speak their own language and to teach us their language.

“We enjoyed singing one of their folk songs in their native language, and having been told of the religious denomination of these children, we took steps to ensure that a school of their denomination was found.

“These children have now been placed with families who are also white British, therefore how are these people going meet the cultural needs of the children?”

A statement issued by Rotherham Council yesterday said: “After a group of sibling children were placed with agency foster carers, issues were raised regarding the long-term suitability of the carers for these particular children.

“With careful consideration, a decision was taken to move the children to alternative care. We continue to keep the situation under review.”

But today Rotherham Council leader Roger Stone said an investigation into the decision is to be launched.

He announced the investigation after the Labour-run authority came under mounting condemnation from political leaders including Education Secretary Michael Gove and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Mr Stone said: “We are going to investigate to make sure everything has been done professionally.

“If the professionals give advice, we take it.

“We are going to investigate - we always would if somebody complains.

“We are looking to make sure all the correct procedures were carried out before the decision was made.

“There is no policy, as has been implied, that if you are a British National Party member you can’t foster children.”

Ms Thacker said: “We always try to place children in a sensible cultural placement.

“These children are not UK children and we were not aware of the foster parents having strong political views. There are some strong views in the UKIP party and we have to think of the future of the children.”

But Education Secretary Michael Gove, who heads the government department responsible for children’s services and was himself adopted as a child, has accused Rotherham of sending out a “dreadful signal.”

“This is a wrong decision being made in the wrong way for the wrong reasons,” said Gove, who branded the action ‘indefensible.’

“The ideology behind their decision is actively harmful to children. We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families.”

Jane Collins, UKIP’s candidate in the upcoming Rotherham by-election, said that the Labour run council’s decision was “beyond belief.”

“The apparent ignorance of the social worker concerned is shocking and heads must roll,” she said.

“The Labour council is using bully boy tactics and instead of trying to defend the indefensible they should be apologising. They are now saying that they will allow the couple to foster just white children - if that’s isn’t racist I don’t know what is.

“The social worker has been quoted as saying that UKIP wants Europeans out of the country and returned to their own countries. That is both nonsense and an outrageous calumny. In fact my husband is half Hungarian and my in-laws full, that hardly makes me xenophobic!

“In a speech in Berlin a few weeks ago, David Cameron said that multi-culturism doesn’t work in our country. Is Rotherham Council going to stop Tories from fostering as well?”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage defended his party’s stance on immigration and Europe, saying: “The idea that Ukip is a racist outfit is rubbish.

“Those foster parents gave those children love, care and attention and the opportunity to thrive in this country.

“They’ve respected the culture from which they came but they’ve also been doing everything they can to teach them English so that they can integrate and do well at school.

“Surely we need more people like this out there fostering kids.”