Foster parents receive the support of an assigned social worker keeping regular contact and making home visits.
The foster child also gets regular visits from their assigned social worker who maintains the link with the birth family.
Support from a district health nurse is provided for pre-school children.
A comprehensive training programme for foster parents pre- and post-approval is provided
One year’s free membership of the Irish Foster Carers’ Association who provide additional information and support. For more: ifca.ie
There are many types of fostering ranging from as little as one day to indefinite duration:
- Supported lodgings – Late teens transitioning to legal adulthood
- Respite - Flexible but usually a set arrangement (eg 1 weekend per month or 1 week per
- Emergency (Section 12) - Very short-term with no notice. Generally, 1 day – 1 week in duration
- Short-term - Up to 6 months
- Long-term - Indefinite and can be a path to adoption, if desired
All children and foster families are vetted before being matched and legal protections and training are standard for all foster carers.
Prospective foster parents’ interests and preferences are fully explored during an assessment prior to matching.
In the case of gardai, specific criteria for matching has been developed which takes account of the unique safety and security requirements of members and their families.
The protocol involves taking particular care in respect of children with:
- a criminal background
- family members involved in crime
- addiction problems or have family with addiction problems
This is provided for because in many cases, parent(s) of the foster child are entitled to visit the foster home and have information about the foster carers.
This would involve revealing a garda’s home address to the family of the fostered child and therefore extra care will be taken when making a match.
Tusla already have a garda family fostering children.
"I was on the scrap heap...Living in a residential home after suffering a huge amount of trauma, multiple placements...I really had no concept of where i was going to be...[but] somebody said 'I care, I care about your life. Your life is going to improve as a result of the care I give you.'"
How much will I know about the child before they are placed in my care?
Tusla provides you with as much information as possible before any child is placed however, with emergency care, Tusla may have limited information on the child in the very initial stages of the placement. As information is gathered it will be shared.
What contact will I have with birth parents?
The main point of contact with birth parents is usually, although not always, at Tusla buildings or other public facilities. Foster carers are expected to transport children to and from access visits, and religious and cultural events. Considerations of garda safety and security will be a factor.
Can I choose the age group or gender of child I wish to foster?
Yes, you can. However, this may depend on varying factors which will be discussed during your assessment such as your accommodation, age of your children, your availability, your parenting experience etc.
What if I can’t manage a child’s behaviour?
Many children are resilient and, with a loving and stable environment, will thrive in foster care.
However, children taken into care have all suffered some type of trauma or loss some find it difficult to cope from time to time. Tusla provides support in these situations through the child’s social worker. You will also have your own social worker assigned to you to address any issues separate to the needs of the child.
Can a Foster Child share a bedroom with one of my own children?
While it is ideal for a foster child to have their own bedroom, it is not essential. Your home is assessed from a health and safety perspective as part of the overall assessment of accommodation suitability.
Are there any medical conditions which prevent me from fostering?
Any significant health issues which may impact upon your ability to provide safe and stable care for a child may preclude you from fostering. However, there will be instances in which approval will be possible. The primary concern will be the impact, if any, of any condition upon a child in your care.
What is the success rate for fostering?
Some 92% of children currently in care are with families who are either members of their extended family, or, in the majority of cases, unrelated, general carers.