SSD defends ‘sexually aware’ advertisement for fostering (03.04.86)

Community Care, 3rd April 1986


1 comment
  1. Kate MacDonald said:


    Hammersmith and Fulham SSD has hit back against criticism of its fostering advertisement in which a six year old girl was described as “very sexually aware”.
    The advertisement appeared last week in the Caribbean Times, and by Saturday was being criticised in the national media for its references to the child’s “sexual awareness”.
    Social services director Bruce Cova was unavailable for comment. But at a hastily arranged press briefing assistant director Joyce Brand defended the SSD’s advertisement which was worded after consideration by a number of social workers and legal advice. She blamed the media for taking references from the advertisement out of context.
    “I think the advertisement has to be read in totality. There has been an attempt by the national press to extract parts of it and use them out of context. I find it immensely sad that when we seek parents for a child with specific needs that the serious intent is extracted and used in this way,” said Miss Brand.
    But she added that as a result of the media coverage “the line manager would be looking at the matter”. However a full-scale internal inquiry at this stage was ruled out.
    The passage referring to “Charmaine” which caused the controversy says: “She is a lively talkative little girl who is affectionate and enjoys praise. She readily shows her feelings and can be a ‘bit of a madam’. She can be provocative and is very sexually aware.”
    But Joyce Bland defended the advertisement’s intent to inform prospective foster parents of what they might be taking on “so that they did not have an idealised view”, and was not dissimilar from other advertisements for foster parents.
    She also pointed out that the decision to advertise was taken only after exhausting all other fostering possibilities.
    Fostering officer Andrew Cobley said a potential foster parent had telephoned the department to complain that she found the media reports “insulting”. He added that the department was awaiting further response to the advertisement, “there still may be families coming forward.”
    Christine Reeves, director of the National Foster Care Association, referring to the advertisement’s inclusion of the controversial phrases, said: “In this case I am not sure to what extent the search for a family was enhanced by their inclusion. The information should be disclosed, but at a second stage when people have responded to an advertisement”.

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