Skip to content

Archive site notice

You are viewing an archived copy of Christian Concern's website. Some features are disabled and pages may not display properly.

To view our current site, please visit

CLC Case News: Christian Foster Couple banned

Printer-friendly version
TAUNTON couple is being prevented from fostering children because they, along with the vast majority of parents in the UK, believe in occasionally smacking their birth-child as a last resort, if judged in the best interest of the child.

Press Statement Issued by David and Heather Bowen

8 April 2008


A TAUNTON couple is being prevented from fostering children because they, along with the vast majority of parents in the UK, believe in occasionally smacking their ‘birth-child’ as a last resort, if judged in the best interest of the child.

David and Heather Bowen who have been married for 11 years, have a nine-year-old daughter.  A second child, Jonathan, died with a rare condition called Thanatophoric Dysplasia three years ago, shortly after birth.  Despite trying to conceive further children, the couple have been unsuccessful and decided to apply to foster.

Their application initially proceeded very well and they were approved by the social worker and her line manager, it was only when it came before the fostering panel in December 07 that the Council decided that it had a big problem with the use of physical chastisement. To David and Heather’s surprise the social worker’s line manager then changed her mind and issued a further report to the panel not recommending the Bowens and ultimately the panel rejected their application.

David, a Chartered Surveyor said: “We began an application to become foster carers which lasted 14 months and were recommended by our social worker and her line manager in November 2007 – but the panel deferred making a recommendation and told the social worker to meet with us again. Within six weeks of this recommendation the social worker’s line manager overturned her previous decision.

“I am a parent Governor at a local school, my wife works for the school PTA, has been a special needs careers advisor and now works in the school and we both assist with children’s work at our local Church – based upon the evidence presented to the Council, we cannot understand why we are unsuitable and it seems that we have been excluded on the basis that we physically chastise our birth child, in accordance with our beliefs and UK law”

The issue at stake was the Bowen’s view of physical chastisement.  David added: “To put this in perspective, our birth daughter is only chastised physically as a last resort amongst a whole range of other forms of behaviour management strategies which include rewards and sanctions.  We have been made by the Council to feel that we are bad parents and yet we do nothing that hundreds of thousands of parents across the UK do as loving and responsible parents.” On March 6 the panel met again and refused to accept the Bowens as Foster Carers.

Heather added: “As the outcome sank in we began to grieve again – feeling a tremendous sense of loss that we would not be allowed to complete our family and provide a loving to home to a child in need. It was very upsetting for us, we learnt of the outcome in the reception area at County Hall, given the bad news by social workers on their way out and we were given no opportunity to question the panel. As we walked away from the Council offices empty handed, it reminded us of the loss we experienced some three years ago when we left hospital without our son, Jonathan. 

“We are very grateful that we have a beautiful daughter and our faith gives us much strength.  However, we have to question why we were turned down. We do understand the sensitivities surrounding Looked after Children and agreed from the outset that we would not physically chastise a looked after child. If the Council will not accept applicants that physically chastise their birth children then it should make this clear from the outset. We cannot understand how the Council can reach this conclusion when it has no policy to say that parents will not be accepted if they physically chastise their birth children and all the evidence in our form F application pointed to us being very good foster carers.”

The Bowens believe Somerset County Council is out of step with the vast majority of parents throughout the UK, the electorate within the County and faith groups.

David added: “We are very concerned that the broader implication for parents throughout the UK is that if Councils are permitted to reject parents, for fostering or adoption, on the basis that they physically chastise ‘birth’ children, then tens of thousands of damaged children will be denied access to perfectly good homes and parents. Surely this is not putting children first.”

The Bowens have lodged an appeal with the Council are consulting the Christian Legal Centre in connection with filing for a Judicial Review on the issue.

Andrea Minichiello Williams


(020) 3327 1130

Christian Legal Centre

See and listen to TV & Radio appearances of the Bowens during Spring 2008