EMERGENCY! Foster Carers Urgently Needed

16/05/2012

Two children come into care in Northern Ireland every day. More foster families are urgently needed to provide safe, stable and nurturing homes for vulnerable children and young people across Northern Ireland. 

 

 

Foster carers and social workers from Belfast Trust and the four other Health & Social Care (HSC) Trusts will take to the roads in a novelty fire engine this Foster Care Fortnight (14-27 May 2012) to emphasise how a regional shortage of foster carers is reaching emergency levels.

To find out when the Fire Engine is in your area please click on the link Regional_Fostering_Fire_Engine_Routes_May12.pdf

Foster homes are needed for children of all ages who are unable to live with their own families. This may be a result of family breakdown, relationship difficulties, neglect, abuse or parental ill health.

There are currently 1,916 children and young people living with HSC foster carers across NI.

Trusts want to find the right foster home for each child / young person, first time round. A shortage of foster carers may result in children / young people living with foster carers outside their local area, having to travel significant distances to school, being far away from their family and friends, and sometimes split from their siblings.

By recruiting a wide pool of foster carers, Trusts can place children / young people within their own areas with trained foster carers who best meet their individual needs.

Health Minister, Edwin Poots who is supporting the regional HSC fostering recruitment campaign said: “Fostering continues to be a key priority for me and I welcome this novel initiative to highlight the continuing need for more fosters and kinship carers. Fostering is highly rewarding and makes a significant difference to the lives of the children and the foster / kinship carer alike. I strongly encourage anyone who believes that they can offer a child a chance of a stable home and family life to come along to one of the many events being held throughout NI during Foster Care Fortnight.”

There is a particular need for foster carers who are willing to offer children / young people a long term home. There are currently 46 children / young people waiting for a long term home across NI.

Ashley Houston (18), who lives with his long term foster carer said: “Not all my foster homes have worked out but I have been with my foster carer now for four years. She is really patient and understanding and I know I can talk to her if I have any problems. That’s so important – knowing that someone listens to me and cares about me. Living with a single carer provides me with consistency where I don’t have to negotiate complex family relationships. Fostering has been fantastic for me – through my care experience I’ve now decided that I want to pursue a career that involves helping others.”

People may apply to foster whether they are married / co habiting or single, own or rent their home, work or are receiving benefits, or if they have children of their own. There is no upper age limit to who can foster as long as they are healthy and have the energy to care for a child / young person. Applications will also be considered irrespective of sexual orientation or religious / ethnic background.

HSC foster carers receive financial allowances, ongoing training and 24 hour social work support.

The five HSC Trusts are looking to recruit people who are patient, understanding, compassionate and flexible and who have time and space in their lives to devote to a child / young person’s needs. Call 0800 0720 137 or visit www.adoptionandfostering.hscni.ne