Regional Fostering Service Celebrated in North Down3rd March 2020
A fresh appeal for Foster Carers in Northern Ireland has been made, as a major new region-wide fostering recruitment drive was celebrated at La Mon House on Monday (24 February 2020). With over 3,300 children and young people currently requiring Foster care here, HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care provides prospective and current Foster Carers with tailored support, advice and information.
The drive of a new public awareness campaign will be the recruitment of more foster carers, with the launch of a new website, www.adoptionandfostercare.hscni.net, marketing and advocacy messaging from current Foster Carers and a newly structured Northern Ireland wide regional service.
Norma Tennis, with over thirty years’ experience working with HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care, describes what fostering has meant for her and husband David: “We have been opening the door of our home to foster children for thirty years and counting, during this time we have cared for children of all ages, children with disabilities, children in emergency circumstances, short break arrangements and longer term situations. We have positive memories of each and every child and have enjoyed supporting children in all aspects of their development from improving their diets to their education, sporting pursuits and even graduating from university”. David explained that the couples experience as Foster Carers has been a life changing and enriching experience for the entire Tennis family “While we have three birth children we happily consider our family to be much larger as many of our foster children have remained permanent additions to the household, we also believe that fostering has had a very positive impact on our own children have greatly benefited from growing up with children from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.” The Couple encourages everyone to consider becoming a foster carer. Norma continued: ”The mutual support from other Foster Carers has been invaluable and the support has resulted in many new friendships. If you’ve considered fostering, we say Go for it! There’ll be ups and downs but you’ll find it very rewarding and will get more out of it than you put in”.
Una Carragher, Principal Social Worker, HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care explained: “Foster carers are ordinary people who are willing to open up their hearts and homes to provide care to other people’s children. They will offer a safe and secure home where children feel valued, respected and cared for. For some children and young people this will be for only a short period of time, whilst others require a home for a longer period. The need is huge here in Northern Ireland and we appreciate it’s not a decision which can be taken lightly. Fostering is a commitment which requires careful consideration and we know from experience that it throws up many questions and potential barriers. With our new campaign we’re taking a transformative approach to break down these barriers, to answer questions and provide information, training and support even before any commitment is made. The key message is that if anyone is even thinking about fostering, we would love to hear from them. We’re aiming to make that as easy as possible with a single hotline (0800 0720 137) and our new user-friendly website. Our team are here to answer any questions, to allay concerns and to provide support for these really important carers.”
Bria Mongan, Director of Children’s Services and Executive Director of Social Work South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said: “I am delighted to bring to the South Eastern HSC Trust this celebration of the launch of the HSC Northern Ireland Adoption And Foster Care, one single consistent regional brand to recruitment. This approach will make it easier for individuals interested in Fostering to navigate their way around the system and for the system to respond as one, having now established a firm foundation which will enable us to move forward we can evolve the service and react to the ever changing and demanding landscape. HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care welcome enquires regardless of race, religion, language, culture, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation and they provide 24-hour support to all foster carers on an ongoing basis.”