'Foster parents are discouraged from hugging or cuddling the children they are bringing up, a scathing report found yesterday.
They are deterred from showing affection by warnings in official guidance about the risk of sex abuse, it said.
The review of foster care blamed ministers for ‘encouraging’ the bar on hugging, which affects more than 50,000 children who are living with temporary foster families after being taken into state care.
The inquiry said foster parents are also hamstrung by rules that mean they are not allowed to make everyday decisions such as taking a child for a haircut or to have their ears pierced.
Children have been told not to call their foster parents Mum and Dad and couples have been warned they are not foster parents but merely foster carers. ‘When carers want to love a child, they should not be discouraged by formal guidance or feel intimidated by the remote threat of allegations,’ the report said.
Foster parents were taught to fear allegations of sexual misconduct and often ‘believed that demonstrations of physical affection were frowned upon’, it said. One foster mother was met with disapproval when she kissed a baby’s tummy after changing its nappy.
Foster fathers were even discouraged from picking up a child from school or an evening out by instructions that said: ‘Carers should be aware of the possible risks of being alone in a car with a foster child.’ Advice that children should not go into a carer’s bed were not right ‘for an infant or toddler who will often value the comfort that can bring, particularly when ill or after nightmares.’'
Read more: Foster parents told not to hug or cuddle children they are bringing up in official guidance about the risk of sex abuse
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