Children and young people in care are calling on members of the public who can provide a secure and supportive home and a loving environment to come forward and consider fostering, according to a new survey conducted by The Fostering Network to mark the start of Foster Care Fortnight 2016.
For the fourth year, HSC Regional Adoption and Fostering Service have partnered with The Fostering Network to launch Foster Care Fortnight in Northern Ireland.
The Fostering Network asked 261 care experienced children and young people what they considered to be the key qualities and skills needed to foster and how these qualities impacted on their lives. The top three qualities identified as key to making a good foster carer were:
• making them feel safe and secure (67 per cent)
• supporting and helping them (61 per cent)
• loving them (54 per cent)
This Foster Care Fortnight is highlighting the need for 170 new fostering families to come forward in Northern Ireland to give loving homes and supportive family environments to children. In particular there is an ongoing need for more foster families to provide homes for teenagers, disabled children and sibling groups.
Foster carers are needed across the five Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust areas. In Northern Trust area, there are currently 490 children and young people living with foster carers.
Ellen Petticrew, Senior Social Worker with the Specialist Fostering Team, in the Northern Trust said: “The Trust would really welcome new foster carers from all walks of life. Even if you only have a few hours to offer, it is valuable contribution to a child’s life. We will provide you with support, guidance and training opportunities. We also really need emergency carers particularly for teenagers in your local area.”
Kathleen Toner, Director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland said: “Fostering is a personally rewarding role which requires a caring but professional approach. We work with over 2000 foster and kinship foster carers in NI and we know foster carers have very special qualities, they are caring first and foremost, they are focused on meeting the child’s needs, they are encouraging and supportive and they are tenacious advocates for the children they look after. The children and young people who responded to our survey clearly articulated what is important to them. We know there are many people in Northern Ireland who meet these requirements. During this Foster Care Fortnight we hope that these people will consider fostering and come forward for consideration.”
Una Carragher, Manager of HSC Regional Adoption and Fostering Service commented, “This Foster Care Fortnight, the five HSC Trusts are asking members of the public to take the leap and find out more about HSC fostering. Through The Fostering Network survey children and young people have voiced what they want their foster carers to give them, we are grateful for all the foster carers who are providing loving, secure, supportive nurturing homes to our children and young people on a daily basis. We need more people to take ‘the leap into fostering’ this Leap Year. If you feel you have these qualities and would like to find out more, contact the Regional Service or contact Northern HSC Trust Fostering Team directly.”
More foster families are needed to come forward during 2016. Without this, children may find themselves living a long way from family, school and friends or being split up from brothers and sisters.
A number of coffee mornings and information stands will be in place across the Trust area to mark Fostering Fortnight and raise awareness of how you can get involved. A picnic with foster carers and young people took place in Carrickfergus and the teams also joined foster carers at the Foster Carer of the Year Award ceremony in Belfast on Friday 20 May.
If you feel you can offer a child or young person a secure and supportive home and a loving environment, please get in touch today. Take the leap into HSC fostering and find out more by calling 0800 0720 137 or visit www.adoptionandfostering.hscni.net for more information.