According to Irish Health Care statistics, “At least one in four (26%) of children in care have at least one brother or sister with them. Some come from families of up to five children. According to the National Standards for Foster Care (2003), there should be no more than two foster children in any one foster family in order to allow them the best chance of settling in. Exceptions can be made for some sibling groups however, once it is agreed that the foster families have the capacity to meet the children’s needs.”

Emergency care: is provided at very short notice, including out of hours.

Short-term care: is a temporary placement lasting from a few days to a number of months while awaiting a decision on either returning home or onto a long-term foster family. All children are placed on a short-term basis initially, as the goal is to enable them to return home.

Long term care: is providing a permanent home for children, ideally until they reach 18 years of age or achieve independence. Children will only be placed in long-term foster care when it has been decided that neither their parents or a family member are suitable to care for them on a long-term basis.

Long term care with enhanced rights: Under Section 4 of the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2007, which came into effect in July 2007, the foster carers or relatives who have been caring for a child for a continuous period of at least five years may apply to the court for an order. The consent of the Child and Family Agency (CFA) is required and the consent of the parents or guardians may be required. The order may, subject to conditions, give the foster carers or relatives broadly the same rights as parents have to make decisions about their children. In particular, they will be able to give consent for medical and psychiatric examinations, treatment and assessments and sign the forms for the issue of a passport.

After a period of time, if it becomes clear that it will not be possible for the child to be returned to his/her birth parents or /family, it may be decided that the child’s best interests would be served by being adopted by the foster carers.

Respite care: is when children are placed with foster carers for limited periods at regular intervals, such as one weekend a month. Many of these children already be in short or long-term placements.

Matching carers and children

Matching is the process of identifying the most appropriate foster placement for a child.  Good matching involves the full exchange of information prior to a child being placed with a foster family and is linked with placement stability.

Children can be fostered from birth up to 18 years of age. In general, up to 40% of children in care are under the age of five; 40% are between the ages of six and 12, around 18% are between 13 and 16, and the remaining 2% are aged from 17 to 18.

“At least one in four (26%) of children in care have at least one brother or sister with them. Some come from families of up to five children. According to the National Standards for Foster Care (2003), there should be no more than two foster children in any one foster family in order to allow them the best chance of settling in. Exceptions can be made for some sibling groups however, once it is agreed that the foster families have the capacity to meet the children’s needs.”

At FCI all placements are closely matched to ensure the needs of the child or young person can be met by the foster carers.  All children and young people are unique; therefore all placements are uniquely matched.

The following are some of the things that need to be taken into account when deciding if a particular placement is suitable

Is the child Part of a sibling group?

Age of the child

School

Behavioural issues

Culture / language / race / religion/ identity

Health and medical factors risk assessment

Amount and type of contact with birth family required

For the foster carers;

Family composition and size

Geography of the foster home in relation to the child’s home

Culture/ language/race/ religion/ identity

Skills and experience

Accommodation

vulnerabilities