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 several months or more. It is provided 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 provides a home for children, ideally until they reach 18 years of age or achieve independence. Children are placed in long-term foster care only when their parents or a family member are deemed unable or unsuitable 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, the foster carers or relatives who have been caring for a child for a continuous period of five years may apply to the court for an order. The consent of Tusla 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 to make decisions about their children. For example, 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 is the process of identifying an 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. At FCI all placements are risk assessed and matched to ensure the foster carers can meet the needs of the child.  

The factors considered in meeting the needs of the child include: Sibling circumstances. Age, schooling requirements, health, medical factors and behavioural issues. Culture, language ,religion, identity. Amount and type of contact with birth family required.

Foster carer factors include; Family composition and size. Location of the foster home in relation to the child’s home. Culture, language, religion, identity. Skills and experience. Accommodation. Vulnerabilities.