Foster Care Fortnight launched in Northern Ireland
Foster carers and staff from all fostering providers in Northern Ireland came together for this annual event, and foster carers were given the opportunity to take part in a variety of workshops that ranged from yoga to study skills, and a whole lot more in between.
Kathleen Toner, Director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland, said: ‘Today has been a real celebration. Not just for families who already foster, but also the members of the public who have come along this afternoon to find out more about fostering and have opened their heart to the idea of their family becoming a fostering family.
‘To launch Foster Care Fortnight with our friends and colleagues from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service has been a rewarding experience. Their commitment to foster care, foster carers and kinship carers, and the children that live with them, is remarkable and we would encourage people in the area to get in touch with them and to start their own fostering journey today.’
Paul Morgan, Director of Children and Young Peoples Services within the Southern Trust, commented: ‘We are delighted to host the launch of Foster Care Fortnight in Northern Ireland and help raise awareness of the valuable job foster carers do. We can never underestimate the value of family life. Time and again we see how, with support and encouragement, a child’s confidence can be increased, helping them to achieve in education and employment and work towards reaching their full potential.
‘I hope some people may be encouraged to give fostering a try. I would like to assure them that we, like all the Trusts, are dedicated in helping and supporting foster carers in fulfilling their role.’
Una Carragher, Manager of HSC Regional Adoption and Fostering Service, added: ‘We are again delighted to launch Foster Care Fortnight in partnership with The Fostering Network, co-hosted this year by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. This partnership began three years ago and we are delighted with its success.
‘The main aim of Foster Care Fortnight is to raise the profile of foster care and to promote the recruitment of foster carers. We urge anyone who wishes to find out more about becoming a foster carer for their local Health and Social Care Trust to contact the Regional Service or contact your local Health and Social Care Trust directly.’
The Fostering Network is calling for 9,070 foster families to come forward right across the UK to give loving homes and supportive family environments to children (170 foster families in Northern Ireland, 7,600 in England, 800 in Scotland and 500 in Wales). In particular there is an ongoing need for more foster families to provide homes for teenagers, disabled children, unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and sibling groups.
Without more foster families coming forward during 2016 some children will find themselves living a long way from family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who does not have the right skills and experience to best meet their specific needs. There is then a significant risk that a child’s placement will breakdown, further disrupting an already traumatic childhood.
Anyone who wishes to find out more about becoming a foster carer should visit www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/could-you-foster