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Written Answers - Foster Care Services

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 99.  Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  her plans to ensure that the 14.4% of unapproved foster carers who are not relatives of the foster child will be approved by the foster care panel under Part III of the Child Care (Placement of Children in Foster Care) Regulations, 1995; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23969/12]

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 of children in care are in foster care.

Prospective foster carers or applicants undergo an assessment and training process to establish their suitability and competence as future foster carers. The assessment procedure is carried out by a social worker from the local fostering team and includes Garda vetting, a medical assessment, personal interviews in the applicant’s home and if the applicant(s) have children, the social worker will also talk to them about being part of a foster family. Garda vetting [322]includes adult children and extended family members residing in the home. The applicant(s) will also be asked to provide referees who will be interviewed by the social worker as part of the assessment process. The social worker then prepares a report, which is shared with the applicant(s) and their views are represented. This report is then presented to the Foster Care panel for approval, including a recommendation as to the age of the child and type of foster care suitable to the applicant(s).

At the end of December 2011, the HSE reported that 3,138 of the 3,769 foster carers in the country were approved by the foster care panel. 85.6% (i.e. 540) of the unapproved foster carers were relatives of the child in care. The HSE has advised me that assessments of all foster carers are being completed for presentation to foster care panels. In particular, this includes the 91 unapproved foster carers (or 14.4% of the total) who are not related to the children being fostered. This process is being monitored across the country and reported to the Office of the National Director for Children and Families.

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