Foster Care Fortnight 2017, Northern Ireland’s largest celebration of fostering, was launched yesterday (Monday 8 May) at an event in the MAC, Belfast by The Fostering Network in partnership with the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service and hosted by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
The launch included a call for more foster carers throughout Northern Ireland to find a suitable home for each child, and specifically within the Belfast Trust area more foster carers are needed to offer loving, stable and secure homes for teenagers and sibling groups. Without more foster carers coming forward to care for siblings there is a risk that brothers and sisters will be separated from each other, which is detrimental to their relationships and wellbeing.
Carol Diffin, Co-Director Child Health/Child Care Belfast Trust,said: “Belfast Trust is delighted to host the launch of Foster Care Fortnight 2017. It is an opportunity to acknowledge publically the vital job which foster carers do in providing looked after children with a stable, loving family life so that they can reach their full potential.
“Today we also want to raise awareness of the ongoing need for more foster families within the Belfast Trust. I hope that individuals will be encouraged to find out more about becoming a foster carer and consider the difference that just one person can make to a child’s life through fostering.”
Andrea, 17, who has been in foster care, said: “My foster carers are very special to me and I will always remember what they did for me and my siblings. Without them I would have been split up from my brother and sister, maybe moved around, and wouldn’t have been able to see each other. That’s just too awful to think about.”
Kathleen Toner, Director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland, said: “Foster Care Fortnight, is intended to value and celebrate foster carers and kinship foster carers as well as encourage others to think about becoming foster carers. If you have given fostering a thought now is the time to come forward and make a difference to a child’s life.”
Una Carrager from the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service, Carol Diffin from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Kathleen Toner from The Fostering Network and foster carer Sean McGivern