How to Become a Foster Carer in Ireland

Assessment of suitability for fostering

All prospective foster carers have to undergo an assessment of their ability to foster. The assessment is very thorough and is undertaken by or on behalf of Foster Care Ireland.  Ultimately foster carers are approved by the Tusla area Foster Care Committee. Upon approval foster carers are assigned to a panel and become active carers when suitably matched to a child in need.

Foster Care Ireland’s policies on the assessment and approval of foster carers are consistent with national standards and enable us to match foster carers to the needs of children in care.

Applicants to become foster carers get written information and a clear explanation of the:

  • fostering assessment process;
  • criteria against which they are to be assessed;
  • qualities they will be expected to demonstrate;
  • professional supports available to foster carers;
  • appeals procedure

Applicants are assessed by a suitably qualified and trained social worker. The assessment report concludes with a recommendation to the Tusla area 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. Applicants participate in the assessment process and supply to Foster Care Ireland (FCI) and Tusla such information as is necessary for the completion of an assessment of their suitability including: medical information, authorisation to enable FCI to carry out Garda checks, and names and addresses of referees. The 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 the assessment report before a recommendation is made and applicants have a right to add their comments for the consideration of the Foster Care Committee. 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 Tusla for inclusion on its foster care panel. Applicants are informed in writing of Tusla’s decision.

Selection of foster carers 

FCI and Tusla are required to ensure that the foster carers have the capacity to meet the needs of the children concerned (Child Care (Placement of Children in Foster Care) Regulations 1995, Part III, Article 7).

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.

Download our guide to becoming a foster carer.