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Written Answers - Foster Care

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 529.  Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the structures the Health Service Executive has in place for social worker supports for foster parents; her views that these supports are adequate in view of the significant burden assumed by foster parents; if she intends to reform this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16360/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Under the Child Care Act, 1991(as amended) the Health Service Executive (HSE) has a statutory duty to promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection. If a child is in need of care and protection and is unlikely to receive it at home, the HSE has a duty to ensure they receive appropriate care. The majority (90%) of children in care are in foster care. There are a number of different types of foster care:

Relative foster care is when another family member, e.g. a grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult sister/brother, or family friend becomes the foster parent of the child. In this situation, the relative foster carer is assessed by the HSE.

Day foster care is an alternative form of care, which provides a support system in the community. The child is spared the upset of separation from their family, can go home each evening, yet benefit from the additional care offered in the foster home. There is minimal disruption to family life, while the parents can obtain practical help, advice and support from the foster parents.

Short term foster care provides temporary care for a child separated from their birth family. Being short term the child will, after a period, move back to their family or move on to a long term family or an adoptive family.

Long term foster care is needed for children who are unlikely to be able to live with their birth family. Many children in long term care become so much part of their foster family that they continue to live with them in aftercare.

[925]Respite foster care is provided by some foster carers to provide a break for a child’s family or another foster family.

Emergency foster care is provided for children who need care in a crisis situation with no advance notice. The children may be coming into care from their own home or from another placement.

Prospective foster carers or applicants undergo an assessment and training process to establish their suitability and competence as future foster carers to prepare them for the role and what to expect. When a child is being placed in foster care, the suitability of a placement with relatives is explored in the first instance. Each child in foster care has a social worker who visits the child in the foster carers’ home and maintains a link with the child’s birth family. Every foster carer also has a social worker, known as a link worker, to support and supervise them. The link workers responsibilities include ensuring that foster carers receive all relevant information and advice about the children including background history, health and education. The link worker organises training, provides regular supervision and support for foster carers and their children and ensures that foster carers understand, accept and operate within relevant standards, policies and guidance of the HSE. The link worker also provides foster carers with specific written information on and explanations of HSE procedures should a complaint or allegation be made against them and the supports available in such an event. Respite care for the foster child can be arranged if necessary and appropriate.

Training is compulsory for all new foster carers and access to regular support/training group meetings where topics of interest are discussed. Support is also available from Public Health Nurses, psychologists and child care workers as appropriate with other professionals being accessed if necessary, for example, speech therapists, counselling services etc. The HSE also provides funding to the Irish Foster Care Association (IFCA) which provides information, support and training to foster carers. It operates an advice service for foster carers, publishes a regular newsletter and arranges conferences for foster carers, their children and foster children.

 530.  Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  the costs incurred by the State in respect of a child in its care being placed for care by a foster parent; the way these costs compare with the Health Service Executive placement of children in non-foster family situations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16361/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy with the most up-to-date information.


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