The Fostering Network has issued an appeal for local people to become foster carers.
Some 170 new fostering families are needed across Northern Ireland during 2016 to ensure the provision of stable, secure and loving homes for children in foster care, according to figures published today by The Fostering Network.
In particular there is an ongoing and urgent need for more foster families to provide homes for teenagers, disabled children, unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and sibling groups.
Many foster carers who choose to foster these groups, who are traditionally thought of as ‘hard to place’, comment on how rewarding the experience is and how well their fostering service has supported them to develop and evolve their current skillset in order to give a home to children who could not live with their birth family.
Despite the call for more foster families, all children who need a foster family have one. However, without more foster families coming forward during 2016 some children will find themselves living a long way from family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who does not have the right skills and experience to meet their specific needs.
There is then a significant risk that a child’s placement will breakdown, further disrupting an already traumatic childhood.
Figures show that two in five (40 per cent) fostered teenagers are already living with their third foster family since coming into care, and one in 20 (five per cent) teenagers are living with their tenth family in foster care.
Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland, said: “Foster carers perform an invaluable duty on behalf of the state, one that really serves the whole community in Northern Ireland.
“We want to ensure that all children have a chance to live with a foster family who meets their needs.
“The work of foster families contributes not only to society now, but in the decades that will come as the young people who live in their care grow into independence and in turn become positive adults who give back to society.”
If you think you have what it takes to become a foster carer, visit couldyoufoster.org.uk today.