Press Release

Minister Lenihan welcomes publication of books for children in foster care and residential care

The Minister for Children, Brian Lenihan T.D., today (17 August 2004) welcomed the fact that two books, especially written for children in foster care and residential care, have now been published by the Department of Health and Children. The books, called, The National Standards for Foster Care – for Children, and The National Standards for Residential Care – for Children are based on The National Standards in Foster Care and The National Standards for Children’s Residential Centres. The Department of Health and Children sent a copy of the standards to the 500 children in residential centres and to the health boards to send to the 4,000 children in foster care.

The Minister stated “It is important that children in the care of health boards who live in foster or residential settings understand what standard of care they can expect. Inspectors in the Social Service Inspectorate (SSI), who were involved in the development of the standards, say that getting the views of children on what it is like to live in their residential centre is a key aspect of an inspection. The publication of these two books should help children understand what to expect when in care and also what inspectors are looking for when doing an inspection.”

Each standard focuses on one area, for example “Children´s residential centres should be safe places”, “Children in care should go to school”, “Residential centres should be nice places”, “Children in foster care should be treated with respect” and “Every foster home should be a safe and positive environment”.

The Standards on Foster Care is divided into three sections, focusing on the care of the child, on the foster carer and on the role and responsibilities of the health board. The foster care book is aimed at the under 12s and the residential care book has two sections, written back to back with separate front covers, for under and over 12s.

Approximately 90% of 4,500 children in care in Ireland are in foster care and the remaining 500 live in 155 children´s residential centres, in groups of three to four children. National Standards for Children in Residential Care were published in 2001 and Standards for Foster Care in 2003. Inspections of children’s residential centres run by health boards have been carried out by the SSI since 1999 and all centres will have been inspected at least once by this autumn. Health Boards register and inspect centres run by the voluntary and private sector. All centres have to meet the National Standards. The SSI is currently doing its first pilot inspection of foster care.