Tusla and the IFCA launch findings of a joint consultation with social workers and foster carers
Tusla – Child and Family Agency and the Irish Foster Care Association (IFCA), the representative body for foster care in Ireland, today launched the findings of a joint consultation with foster carers and social workers across the country.
The consultation brought together 300 foster carers and social workers to discuss the challenges they face in foster care and suggest possible solutions to Tusla and IFCA. The report launched today highlights the experiences and concerns of foster carers and social workers, as well as their aspirations for foster care and the children they care for. The consultation found that:
- For 95% of foster carers, knowing they have helped a child or family in need is a reward of fostering
- 84% of foster carers feel appropriately or somewhat appropriately supported when seeking advice about a child who has experienced abuse
- 87% of social workers reported that they feel respected by the foster families with whom they work
Catherine Bond, IFCA CEO, said “We are delighted that this joint consultation between social workers and foster carers has taken place and that our members had an opportunity to share their insights and work collaboratively on suggestions to improve foster care for everyone. Their input will ensure that the voices of foster carers and the best interests of children in care will inform the development of Tusla’s Alternative Care Strategy. Their participation and engagement in this process is a clear expression of their commitment to improving fostering relationships and experiences for children and families.”
Speaking at the publication of the report, Cormac Quinlan, Director of Transformation and Policy, Tusla, said “We are delighted to have collaborated with IFCA on this joint project of consultation with foster carers and social workers. Our care system is built on the generosity of foster carers who open their homes to the almost 6,000 children in foster care and the social workers who support them to do so. Tusla is currently developing a new Alternative Care Strategy to enhance the current provision of services to children in care and the suggestions from this consultation will be central to this work.”
The consultation identified a number of suggestions to improve foster care services, many of which are currently being addressed by IFCA and Tusla. Steps currently being taken by the two organisations include:
IFCA and Tusla are developing a joint protocol that will outline how the two organisations work together to best effect for the promotion of excellence in foster care;
- IFCA has produced a comprehensive guide on dealing with complaints and allegations to provide clarity, information and guidance on this topic. Information sessions are also being provided nationally by IFCA;
- IFCA is creating an online resource library which will provide a range of accessible resources on topics of interest in foster care;
- Tusla is developing a new Alternative Care Strategy to improve our services for children in care. Its aim is to strengthen preventative strategies to support young people to remain safely at home; to explore and develop a range of care placements; and to further enhance the provision of support to young people in aftercare;
- Tusla has developed a National Child Care Information System (NCCIS), which is being rolled out on a phased basis and is expected to be fully operational by the end of next year. NCCIS is now live in two areas;
- Tusla is currently laying the foundations for an extension of after-hours and out-of-hours services. This service will be extended to include foster care and Tusla has committed to the establishment of this nationally in 2017.
Ms Bond and Mr Quinlan concluded “This consultation was invaluable in that it gave an open forum to people on the front line of foster care in Ireland and allowed us to hear their needs and concerns. We would like to thank all the 300 social workers and foster carers who took the time to contribute to this consultation process and report.”