As the statistics show, there is always a need for new foster carers to meet the needs of foster children in Northern Ireland. If you live in Northern Ireland, it is worth asking yourself how you feel about fostering. As many foster parents will attest, fostering is a rewarding role, and you are paid a generous allowance to allow you to focus on the child or children in your care. After reviewing the stats, we will look at some of the reasons why people become foster carers.
The statistics on foster children in Northern Ireland indicate the dire need for foster carers. At the end of the first quarter of 2022, there were 3,624 children from babies to 20-year-olds in the foster system or in care overall in Northern Ireland. A third of these children had been in care for a minimum of five years at this time. Another quarter of the total number of children had only been in care for a year.
These statistics show how many children need to be in foster homes. Almost 85% of these children had already been placed in foster care. However, some of these children have moved from one foster home to another. They are in serious need of stability in their lives.
Seven percent of children in care are living with their parents, with seven and four percent, respectively, placed in residential care or elsewhere. Almost 900 new admissions to care were received in 2020/21 while around 700 children left the care system. This means that the number of children in care is growing at around 200 children in a year, most of whom will need foster parents.
Desire to Change a Life for the Better
Children in care have been victims of neglect, abuse, and/or abandonment and are thus traumatised. Being a foster carer allows you to provide a welcoming and healing home to a child in need. Many foster children accredit their success and happiness in later life to the right foster carer being available when they were needed the most.
If you have the desire to improve someone’s life for the better, becoming a foster parent will give you that opportunity. There are no exclusions based on marital status or gender preference. All that you need is a spare room in your home as the law requires foster children to have their own bedrooms. You can find all the information on requirements and training etc., for fostering in Northern Ireland here.
Do you have a home with a spare bedroom? Perhaps your children have grown up and left home and you still feel that you have a lot of love to share with a child. Maybe you never had children of your own, maybe due to getting your career on track and are now in a position to give a child a good home.
Whatever the reason, if you feel you have the desire to care for a child and provide a loving home, then fostering may be right for you.