Fostering in Ireland is governed by the Child Care (Placement of Children in Foster Care) Regulations 1995 and the Child Care Act 1991.

The National Standards for Foster Care 2003 document sets out clear standards against which Fostering Agencies are inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority ( HIQA)
Fostering means looking after somebody else’s child or children, in the care of the State, in your own home. Placements can be on a short term or long term basis, depending on the child’s needs. Some placements will be “voluntary”, when a child is placed in a foster home because the parent or legal guardian has asked for help. Other placements may be the result of a court order, when a Judge decides it is better for the child to live with a foster family.

Ideally, children will only be in foster care temporarily and will return to their family. However, this is not always the case, particularly where there has been serious neglect or abuse.

The Role of the Social Worker

There were over 4,500 children in care in Ireland in 2016. Each child is allocated a TUSLA Social Worker who is responsible for overseeing their wellbeing and development, as well as ensuring the child’s best interests are kept in mind at all times. Each Foster Care family is allocated their personal Link Social Worker who supports them during the placement.

All Social Workers will encourage the development of a positive relationship between the Foster Care family and the foster child, as well as with the foster child’s biological family. Fostering and adoption are different, in that a foster child remains a part of his or her biological family.

Reasons for Foster Care

There are various reasons why a child cannot live with his or her own family:

  • Illness in the family

  • Parent(s) death

  • Neglect

  • Abuse

  • Violence

Understanding Fostering

Children can be fostered from when they are babies to 18 years old. Personality, needs and behaviour vary from one child to the next, although all share the basic emotional and physical needs.

It is highly likely that a child coming into Foster Care has suffered trauma or loss in some form. This is often reflected in their behaviour, which may be challenging at times. A Foster Carer needs to have the skills and resilience to help a child understand their circumstances and encourage his or her confidence, skills and personalities to grow in a positive way.