Foster Care Ireland have clear, written policies on the assessment and approval of foster carers which enable us to approve and match foster carers to the needs of children in care.
Persons who apply to become foster carers receive written information and a clear explanation of:
• the fostering assessment process;
• the criteria against which they will be assessed;
• the qualities they will be expected to demonstrate;
• the professional supports available to foster carers;
• Foster Care Ireland’s commitment to equal opportunities;
• the appeals procedure
Persons who apply to become foster carers undergo a formal assessment carried out by a suitably qualified and trained social worker. The assessment report concludes with a recommendation to the foster care committee as to whether the applicants should be approved and, if so, what services they could offer.
The progress of the assessment is regularly discussed with the applicants. The assessment is completed within 16 weeks of their formal application, unless more time is required. They are informed of the reasons for any extension and given a new completion date.
In order to ascertain the applicants’ suitability, health boards carry out checks of their own relevant records and of those of other health boards or equivalent authorities in other countries where the applicants have previously lived.
Foster care applicants participate in the assessment process and supply to the health board such information as is necessary for the completion of an assessment of their suitability including: medical information, authorisation to enable the health board to carry out Garda checks, and names and addresses of referees.
Garda clearances are obtained on all adults living in, or with significant unsupervised access to foster homes, before the carers are approved or a first placement is made.
The applicant’s household is assessed and all family members including children, in accordance with their age, stage of development and individual needs, are involved in the assessment process.
Foster care applicants have access to their assessment report before a recommendation is made and candidates have a right to add their own comments to the report for the consideration of the foster care committee.
Foster care applicants are given an option to meet the foster care committee that considers their application.
Assessment reports are considered by the foster care committee. It decides whether to recommend the applicants to the health board for inclusion on its foster care panel. Applicants are informed in writing of the health board’s decision.
Children, where possible, spend some time with the proposed foster care families prior to placement, so that they can express an informed view about the planned move.
Matching carers with children is based on the written assessment of the children’s needs and their care plans. The children’s views are considered in accordance with their age, stage of development and individual needs.
Matches are achieved by means of information sharing and discussion involving all relevant professionals, the children and their families, where appropriate, and the proposed foster carers, their families and other children in the placements.
Child and family social workers seek to establish links between the children’s family and the foster carers to enable the children to settle in their new placement.
The appropriateness of the match is reconsidered if the plan for the care of the child changes, or the circumstances of the foster carers change.
Download our guide to becoming a foster parent