What Is Fostering?
Sometimes children and young people cannot safely live at home with their birth parents. The reasons for this vary including problems with parental addiction, mental health, exposure to various forms of abuse including physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect. Other children and young people may arrive into Ireland unaccompanied by a parent/guardian and seek asylum. Tusla is the statutory agency with responsibility for child protection and welfare in the Republic of Ireland. If it is not possible to provide enough supports to keep a child or young person safe at home, Tusla may seek to have the young person received into the care of the state. Almost 90% of all children received into the care of the state are looked after in foster families. Approximately 25% of children in care are placed in relative foster care.(Tusla Monthly Service Activity report October 2022) This means they are fostered by somebody who is either related to or has a pre-existing connection to the child. 63.5% of children and young people in care are in General Foster Care. Fostering is where families or individual provide a caring safe home to children and young people in care on behalf of the state. Foster families vary in many ways. Some families have two parents some have one, some families have birth children, some don’t, Some families have lived in Ireland all of their lives, some haven’t.
The important thing that all foster families/carers have in common is that they have a commitment to caring for children and young people. They need to be able to provide a warm, nurturing environment and to welcome children and young people into their homes and accept them for who they are. Foster families work closely with Tusla, schools and children’s families to help a child/young person to flourish.
Some children need foster families for a long time and grow up in their foster family. Other children will only need to be in foster care for a short time to enable their birth parents get the support needed to make it possible for the child to return. We need all sorts of families to enable us to meet the needs of children and young people at risk. While not every family may be able to do every type of fostering, there is probably some part of fostering that they could do. Regardless of the type of fostering or how many children someone fosters, if they can make the difference to even one Child they have done something extraordinary and will make an impact on the future of that child.
Who Are The Children?
Children and young people in care can be of any age up to 17 years and come from various backgrounds. Children can come from many different kinds of families and families of different ethnic origins This is quite similar to the multi-cultural society that Ireland is becoming. These children and young people are similar in many ways to other children and young people their age. Children and young people who need to be placed in foster families come into the care of the state for different reason. These mostly relate to the circumstances surrounding their lives such has parental addiction, parental mental health difficulties, victims of neglect, physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Other children and young people have come to Ireland unaccompanied by a related adult. Tusla is the statutory agency with responsibility for Child Protection.
Children and Young people in care have the same needs as every child, including to be fed, clothed, safe, warm, love, opportunities to learn, play and to flourish,
Children and Young People who come into care have usually experienced some disruption and or trauma within their life. This can impact their development and their sense of safety and trust in the world and the people around them. Our foster families and staff are provided with the training and support to enable them to understand and empathise with the child and respond to them in ways that meet their needs.
Types of Fostering
Five Rivers Fostering operates a nationwide Emergency Place of Safety Service on behalf of Tusla. We have families who are on call night times and over the weekends. If the Gardai or Tusla come across children and young people who need a place of safety outside of normal office hours they can make contact with Five Rivers Fostering Social worker on call who will undertake a risk assessment and look to match the young person with one of our emergency families. These placements are very temporary. EPS families are usually open to considering welcoming a wide range of children into their home for short periods. It is important to be non-judgemental, and able to offer warmth, comfort and a welcome to children who have experienced a difficult time. Helping children to feel safe is very important.
Respite foster Carers are families who are available to care for children for short planned time periods. This can be a huge support to children and young people’s permanent Carers. Five Rivers Fostering is always looking for people who can provide regular respite care. We are especially keen to recruit families who would be able to provide breaks to children with disabilities or additional needs. Relevant training and support is provided. If you think you would like to foster but cannot commit full time at this stage this might be a good option. If you think you could commit to caring for a young person regularly maybe a weekend a month or every two weeks then respite fostering might be a good way for you to make a difference to the life of a young person.
Most children referred into fostering are referred on a short-term basis. Children/young people are placed with foster families for a short period time while their needs are assessed or until they return home to their birth family. Short term placements can range from a few days to a few months.
Often times children/young people need to remain in care for a longer period of time (in excess of one year). Many of these placements begin as short term placements. Children/young people placed in long term foster care will need a foster family until they are at least 18 years old.
As much as possible we aim to place siblings together in one foster family. If this is not possible we place them with foster families who live in close proximity to one another.
Some families care for young mothers (under 18 years) and their babies. Their main role is to support the young person and help them develop the skills they need to care for themselves and their baby.
Some children in foster care will have additional needs. There is a broad range from mild learning disability to children who may have more profound needs in terms of physical disabilities, learning disabilities and complex medical needs.
We are always looking for families to care for children with additional needs. Additional supports and relevant training is provided. Some families provide respite/ holiday care to children with complex needs. This is a great support to them and their families.
Supports We Offer
Five Rivers Fostering prides itself on the provision of wrap-around support for children and foster families. We believe support should be provided at the earliest point so that where possible difficulties are resolved while they are small and relatively manageable.
As a Five Rivers Fostering Foster Carer, you will enjoy the following support: