Minister Lenihan launches National Standards for Foster Care
Speaking today (Tuesday 29th April) at the launch of the National Standards for Foster Care, Minister Lenihan stated that: “Indications in a recent study show there are significant benefits to be derived from the fostering experience, for both the children and foster carer families. More work needs to be done in attracting people to the area of foster care.”
The Report of the Working Group on Foster Care highlighted a number of problems in the foster care service and made a range of recommendations to strengthen and further develop the service. The National Standards for Foster Care were established in response to the Report´s recommendation that National Standards on Practice and Procedure be drawn up.
Ms Michele Clarke of the Social Services Inspectorate chaired the committee charged with developing the National Standards. The committee comprised representatives of the Department of Health and Children, the Social Services Inspectorate, the Irish Foster Care Association and professionals involved in the provision of foster care.
The National Standards for Foster Care concentrate on the following areas:
- the quality and consistency of services for children and young people in foster care
- standards and practice related to foster carers
- guidance to health boards on how they can effectively meet their statutory obligations
The Minister expressed his confidence that the National Standards will serve “to improve the quality and standard of foster care in Ireland and will ensure that the standards of practice applied in looking after children in care and in supervising and supporting foster carers are of the highest level”.
The Minister noted that young people had not been omitted from the consultation process undertaken in developing the National Standards and was pleased to launch the “The Children´s Book about Foster Care” – a version of the Standards written for the under 12s.
There are approximately 4,000 children in foster care nationally representing about 90% of children in the care of the health boards. The Government is committed to the continued improvement of the foster care services. Minister Lenihan stated that attention “must now become focused on ensuring that these National Standards for Foster Care are met and in implementing fully the recommendations of the Working Group´s Report on Foster Care.”
Minister Lenihan congratulated the committee on the publication of the National Standards and thanked all those involved in the consultation process, particularly a group of young people with experience of foster care.