Press Release

Minister Lenihan Launches “New Beginnings”, a training course for the children of foster carers

The Minister for Children, Mr Brian Lenihan, T.D., today launched “New Beginnings”, a training course for the children of foster carers, developed by the Irish Foster Carers Association.

The Minister acknowledged the role played by these children stating: “I am really delighted to see a training programme for the children of fostering families. The children of foster carers are often the unsung heroes of the fostering service. They play such an important role in the foster care service and, up to now, have often been overlooked. Who knows, these young people could be the foster families of the future.”

The course, developed by young people who have grown up as part of a foster family, foster carers and social workers, aims to help children of foster carers achieve an overall understanding of foster care in and interactive and fun way. Minister Lenihan acknowledged the involvement of young people in the development of the course stating: “Consultation with children and young people on issues which affect them is a recent development which I applaud as it acknowledges that the policy of children being seen and not heard does not work. Young people see issues very clearly and have opinions which, are equally valuable as those of the adults around them.”

There are over 4,000 children in foster care nationally representing 90% of children in the care of the health boards. The Government is committed to the continued implementation of the Report of the Working Group on Foster Care, 2001 which makes recommendations on the development and support of foster care services. This commitment is shown by the substantial increase in the Foster Care Allowance in August 2001 and in the launch of the National Standards for Foster Care in 2003.

Minister Lenihan thanked the Irish Foster Care Association, foster carers, social workers and children of foster carers for their contribution to ‘New Beginnings’. Minister Lenihan acknowledged the work of the Irish Foster Care Association stating that they have “created a family of foster carers with a wealth of experience in all the difficulties fostering brings.”