The HSE is seeking foster carers who can provide stable homes, both short and long term, for young people aged eight to 18 years. Foster carers currently provide care to 1,215 children in the west.
As part of the local health authority’s new recruitment drive it is appealing to the public to consider opening their homes to children in care. The theme of the campaign is “Change a Life, Become a Foster Carer”.
“It doesn’t matter if you are single, married or living with someone, it’s about having the passion, time and energy to make a difference that counts,” says John Smyth, the regional director for children and family services with the HSE West.
“We want to hear from people who can help us provide the best possible home environments for young people in times of need. Foster carers deserve the support of the whole community for what they do. We continue to need more carers to join this group in order to meet the ongoing needs of children in care.”
He says the first choice for these children is the “safe, nurturing and quality environment” of a family setting.
There has been an increase in the number of children in care in line with the growing population, he outlines.
“Therefore, we need to increase the number of foster carer and families in the region to meet the needs of these children. Currently there are foster carers providing care to 1,215 children in the HSE West. Fostering is the backbone of the child care service.”
Fostering provides homes for children who, for a variety of reasons, cannot live with their own families, says a spokesperson for the HSE West.
“This may be for a short time, perhaps a week or two, or can be a longer term requirement. Foster carers provide a stable and caring home for children who cannot live with their own family, during what can be difficult times in their lives. Becoming a foster carer is a hugely rewarding experience. When foster carers open their heart and home they can change lives.”
Speaking at the fostering awareness campaign launch Minister Frances Fitzgerald said unless a child’s identified needs dictate otherwise, the best place for children in care is with foster carers and as close as possible to their home and community.
“To complement this campaign, I would encourage foster carers to be even more vocal within their own communities and to let people know about the many positive aspects associated with fostering. Foster care provides the most vulnerable young people in society with a stable family environment. Many of the relationships established extend well beyond their childhood. I would appeal to potential foster carers who are considering taking on this role to contact the HSE to explore the invaluable contribution they can make.”
A range of information sessions and events, organised by HSE fostering teams across the country, are taking place as part of the campaign. The full list of events can be viewed at www.fostering.ie
Posters and leaflets on fostering are available from parish halls, health centres, GP surgeries, community and shopping centres. Foster carers receive a range of supports, including training, social worker assistance and financial help.