New website for foster carers and adoptive parents

Martin McGrath (Head of Family Placement, Southern Health and Social Care Trust), Elaine Peile (social worker, Family Placement), Wentford McDowell (foster carer), Arthur Kirwin (Team Manager, Craigavon and Banbridge Family Placement), Gemma Fitzsimmons (Senior Manager, Family Placement) Front row: Katrina Kelly (social worker, Family Placement) and Dorrie Browne (social worker, Family Placement).
Martin McGrath (Head of Family Placement, Southern Health and Social Care Trust), Elaine Peile (social worker, Family Placement), Wentford McDowell (foster carer), Arthur Kirwin (Team Manager, Craigavon and Banbridge Family Placement), Gemma Fitzsimmons (Senior Manager, Family Placement) Front row: Katrina Kelly (social worker, Family Placement) and Dorrie Browne (social worker, Family Placement).

MORE than 60 foster carers, kinship carers, adopters and staff from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust have come together for the launch of a new website by the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service.

The Regional Service was originally established to assist the five Trusts with the recruitment and training of foster carers. It has now expanded to become the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service, working with both adoption and fostering teams in all Trusts to recruit, train and support foster carers and adoptive families in Northern Ireland.

The new website www.adoptionandfostering.hscni.net provides a full range of information for anyone either involved in or considering fostering and adoption. Users can download information packs and view DVD clips on adoption and fostering.

They can also read profiles of children currently waiting for a foster home, hear about the fostering task from foster carers, and read about how fostering has made a lasting difference to some young people in foster care. Users can also keep updated with what’s happening in their area and find out about training and support available to HSC foster carers, kinship carers and adopters.

Una Lernihan, Commissioning lead for Adoption, HSC Board said, “We are absolutely delighted that the Regional Service for fostering has been expanded to include adoption. We always hear from children in the care system and adults who were in care that we need to work harder to find families and using the Internet is a very powerful way to do just that. The website is easy to use and provides lots of interesting information to answer questions people have about fostering and adoption in Northern Ireland and most importantly the kinds of children who are waiting for a home. We really hope that it will help people to make that crucial decision to open their homes and their hearts to adopt or foster a child in care.”

Fostering provides children and young people who cannot live with their own families with alternative care where they can benefit from a safe and stable home. Some of these children and young people require care for a short time, others need nurturing homes until they reach independence.

Adoption is the legal process by which a child or a family group of children who cannot be brought up within their birth family become full, permanent and legal members of their adoptive family. Adopters become the child’s legal parents with the same rights and responsibilities as if the child was born to them.

There is always a need for more foster carers and adoptive families in Northern Ireland. Don’t rule yourself out before finding out more. Contact 0800 0720 137 or visit www.adoptionandfostering.hscni.net.