Health Minister Simon Hamilton has welcomed Foster Care Fortnight, which aims to promote foster care, and raise awareness of the need for more foster carers.
There are approximately 2,857 children in care in Northern Ireland, of whom 76% are living with foster/kinship care families. The theme for this year is ‘Make a Connection to Fostering’ and aims to recognise the central role foster carers can play in providing stable, caring homes for vulnerable children and young people.
Health Minister Simon Hamilton said: "I am delighted to add my support to Foster Care Fortnight. There are some children who, for various reasons, cannot be cared for at home and we must ensure they are offered stability and permanence in other ways. Foster care, including care in kinship settings, is a vitally important alternative.
"There are currently 1,928 foster carers in Northern Ireland and I extend my thanks to each and every one of them for the incredible work they do by opening their homes and sharing their lives with some of our most vulnerable children and young people. It is estimated that we need around three new foster carers every week to meet the needs of children and young people coming into the care system. This is why Foster Care Fortnight is vitally important to help promote fostering."
Highlighting ongoing work within his Department, the Minister said: "Fostering Regulations are currently being brought forward which will allow all fostering agencies to approve their own foster parents and will, for the first time, make independent and voluntary fostering agencies subject to a system of regulation and inspection by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). I also hope in the near future to publish for consultation a draft Adoption and Children Bill, which will include provision for the reduction in the time period a child is required to have lived with a foster carer, before a Residence Order can be sought."
The Minister also paid tribute to the Regional Adoption and Fostering Taskforce, which works to deliver improved outcomes for looked after children and provide better supports for those who look after them.
Notes to editors:
- Foster Care Fortnight runs from 1-13 June 2015 and is an annual UK-wide awareness campaign.
- Fostering Network is the lead charity for foster and kinship carers in Northern Ireland. Its mission is to improve outcomes for children in care by promoting foster care both locally and nationally.
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