Fostering in Ireland is caring for someone else’s child in your own home, providing family life for a child or young person, who for one reason or another cannot live with his or her own parents. Foster care is only considered for children in situations where they are assessed to be at risk.
Fostering is a service for children who, for a variety of reasons, cannot live with their own family. This may be for a short time, perhaps a week or two, or can be a longer term requirement.
Foster carers provide a stable and caring home for children who cannot live with their own family, during what can be difficult times in their lives. Becoming a foster carer is a hugely rewarding experience. When foster carers open their heart and home they can change lives.
The Child and Family Agency (CFA) assesses, recruits and trains foster families according to the needs of the area. The CFA also places children with foster families who have been recruited and trained by non-statutory agencies. The CFA is responsible for each child in care but support to the foster family may be provided by the non-statutory agency. Each foster child has his or her own social worker who monitors the growth and development of the child and ensures that the best interests of the child are always kept in mind. Each foster family also has its own social worker, who may have helped assess the family as suitable to foster children and who will support the family throughout the foster term. An important part of the social worker’s role is to develop the relationship between the foster child and the foster family and between the foster child and his or her own family.
It is important to note that fostering in Ireland, a child differs from adoption because a foster child always remains a permanent part of his or her own family. The CFA is responsible for the child and the foster parents do not have guardianship.
Children can be placed in foster care in two ways:
When a child is placed in foster care, the CFA assigns responsibility for the child to a social worker. Based on the child’s needs and circumstances, the CFA makes a decision on the type of fostering that is most suitable for the child. There are three different types of fostering:
Young people up to the age of 18 can be fostered.
Any person or family can apply to the CFA to be assessed as a foster parent or foster family. References, Garda clearance and medical examinations will also be required as part of this process.
There are no maximum age limits for foster carers. In making a decision about suitability as a foster carer, every effort is made to ensure that those selected are suitable. In other words, the decision to place a child with a particular foster carer is on the basis of the individual child and their needs and each cases is judged on it’s own merits.
The State’s responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children whose parents fail in their duty falls to the Child and Family Agency by virtue of the Child Care Act 1991. The 1991 Act confers both a statutory power and duty upon the Child and Family Agency to protect children and promote their welfare.
The Child Care (Placement of Children in Foster Care) Regulations 1995 require that a Care Plan for the child is drawn up which sets out the support to be provided to the child and the foster carers and the arrangements for access to the child in foster care by parents or relatives.
The National Standards for Foster Care, 2003 have a major role to play in ensuring that foster care placements are adequately supported and that children in foster care receive the best possible care
Get in touch the first step in becoming a foster carer is to contact us. You can complete our online enquiry form or ring the Child and Family Agency Infoline on 1850 24 1850