Foster parents/carers come from all walks of life regardless of your marital status, sexuality or residential status. Foster families come from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds which reflect the needs of the children/young people they care for.
The main criteria is that the foster family has the room, both physically and emotionally to accommodate a child/ren and can provide a stable family environment in which to raise the foster child/young person.
- need to have time and energy to invest in a child or young person.
- must enjoy the company of children and young people.
- must be able to communicate effectively, not only with the child/young person but with social workers, the children's birth families and others concerned with the well-being of the child/young person.
- need to be flexible and non-judgemental, as well as patient and understanding.
- A sense of humor is also a necessity!
Each application will be considered carefully on its merits. Each agency assesses its own applicants and each applicant must undergo an assessment and training process. Towards the end of the assessment, the social worker will draw up a final report for submission to a foster care committee.
The agency will seek and speak to referees and will also require the applicant's permission to seek Garda clearance on all adult family members residing in the home, this includes adult children and extended family members residing in the home. There are certain offences that will prevent you becoming a foster carer, so if you have ever been convicted of a sexual offence or a violent act towards a child then you will not be able to foster.
During the assessment process you will discuss the age profile of the children/young people most suited to be placed with your family and what type of fostering suits your family best.
Some fostering placements may require at least one member of the fostering family to be a full-time carer. Certain time commitments are required, i.e. attending meetings, facilitating contact, however some types of fostering will be more demanding than others. Fostering will have an impact on everyone living in the home. The sons and daughters of foster carers will have to share their parents, their toys and their friends, as well as cope with difficult and challenging behaviors. They may find themselves taken into confidence by a child or young person who has suffered abuse.
Despite these difficulties, many say that being part of a foster family has had a positive impact on them and helped them understand others better.
When a child/young person comes into care in a planned manner, the Fostering Social Worker looks to the child/young person’s extended family to see if the young person could be placed with relatives. Approximately 1/3 of children/young people in care today are in relative care, i.e. living with grandparents, aunts, uncles or other family members.
Choosing to foster is a big decision that will change your life, the whole family should be involved in the assessment process.
General Foster Care
A general foster carer is a person approved by the Child and Family Agency, having completed a process of assessment and has been placed on a panel of approved foster carers to care for children in the care of the State in accordance with the Child Care (Placement of Children in Foster Care) Regulations, 1995 and the Child Care Act 1991.