Foster Care Fortnight 2018, Northern Ireland’s largest celebration of fostering, was launched today (Monday 14 May) at an event in the Seamus Heaney Centre, Bellaghy by The Fostering Network in partnership with the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service and hosted by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.
Foster Care Fortnight raises awareness of the fantastic work of the 2,000 foster families in Northern Ireland who offer loving, stable homes to over 2,000 children every day. It also shines a spotlight on the need for more people to consider becoming foster carers. Without more foster families coming forward during 2018, and especially people who could foster teenagers and sibling groups some children will find themselves living a long way from family, school and friends or being split up from brothers and sisters.
Guests at the launch heard from 18 year old Rachel who has been fostered since she was a toddler. She said: ‘My foster carers brought me into their family and I became one of them. They gave me a secure and loving home to grow up in. I have achieved so much through their support.
To anyone who is considering fostering, I would say please go and explore your options. It is so rewarding to your family and the young people involved. You could change their lives and yours!’
Seán Holland, Chief Social Work Officer for Northern Ireland said: ‘I welcome the launch of Foster Care Fortnight. It gives me the opportunity to publicly recognise, celebrate and to record my appreciation of the valuable work of foster carers.
‘For those children, who, for whatever reason, cannot remain at home, foster carers can offer them loving, secure and stable homes and enable them to reach their full potential. The majority of children in care in Northern Ireland are placed in foster care. We need more people to foster, including kinship (family and friends) carers.
‘Foster carers come from all walks of life. I believe that many people in Northern Ireland have the special qualities needed to provide loving and supportive family homes. I strongly encourage anyone, who is interested in finding out more about this rewarding role, to contact The Fostering Network or their local Health and Social Care Trust.’
Kathleen Toner, Director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland said “Foster Care Fortnight is intended to value and celebrate foster carers. If you gave fostering a thought now is the time to come forward and make a difference to a child’s life”.
Una Carragher, Manager of the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service said “Today we want to raise awareness of the ongoing need for more foster families across Northern Ireland. There are people out there who could make a real difference to the life of a child or young person. However, some people rule themselves out of becoming a foster carer on myths and misbeliefs. If you are interested find out more from your local trust before ruling yourself out”.
People who think they have the relevant skills to be able to look after fostered children, enjoy a challenge and have a spare room can find out more at www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/couldyoufoster.