Answers To All Of The Questions You May Have About Becoming A Foster Carer

There has recently been a national shortage of foster carers. Five Rivers Fostering are warmly welcoming same-sex couples and single LGBT people to provide a child with a loving home.

An LGBT foster couple pictured with their baby

There has recently been a national shortage of foster carers. Five Rivers Fostering are warmly welcoming same-sex couples and single LGBT+ people to provide a child with a loving home.

Five Rivers Ireland was established in 2002. It is the first independent fostering agency to operate in the Republic of Ireland.

Over the years they have grown from a small staff team of two to a team of 28. The head office is based in Dublin, however they provide foster care to children across the country and have foster families in most counties.

In 2011 they opened an office in Cork to support our families in the Munster Region. Five Rivers Ireland provides care to a wide range of children of all ages and cultures and with a variety of different needs.

We asked them some questions that may help you decide if fostering could be for you!


Who can foster?

Anyone can foster, as long as they are over 26 years of age and have the time and support to care for the child or young person.

Does my relationship status matter?

We welcome applications and enquiries from both single applicants and from couples. The most important factor is that you have the time in your life to dedicate to a child who needs support and care.

During the assessment process we will discuss the people in your life who can provide you with support. When fostering, it is important that you can access our service for professional support, but it is also important that you have family and friends who can also offer you invaluable support in other ways.

If you are separated or divorced, you can also make an application to foster. If you have children with your ex-partner we will contact your ex-partner during the assessment to establish their views. However, we understand that some separations may have been difficult, and we can discuss any concerns that you have about this during the initial stages of your application.

Will my sexuality or cultural background affect my chances of fostering?

We welcome people from all backgrounds, cultures, sexuality and couples who are in same sex partnerships. If you wish to discuss this further you can complete the online application or ring our office where a social worker can answer any further questions that you may have.

I am not an Irish citizen, can I apply?

Children who are in need of foster families are from a variety of nations and backgrounds. Therefore we seek to recruit foster carers from various nationalities so that we can provide culturally appropriate families to children. Once again, we welcome applications from non-Irish citizens, once you have the ability to remain in Ireland indefinitely and can provide a long term commitment to remaining in Ireland so as to care for a child.

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Do I need a spare bedroom?

Yes, a foster child needs their own bedroom.

Can I continue to work?

It is preferable that one foster carer is not working and can take on the role of being the main carer to the child or children. However we can discuss your individual circumstances with you during any initial enquiries. It may be possible for single carers to continue working while fostering if their employer or work is extremely flexible.

Given that many children and young people have experienced inconsistent care prior to coming into foster care, we believe that it is vital to restore this sense of security and stability for children. Through experience we have also noted that children who have one carer available to them at all times, thrive on this experience and they tend to have more successful outcomes in foster care.

Do you have to have children of your own in order to foster?

You can apply to foster if you do not have your own children. However it is important that you have some experience of caring for children. This could be in a professional capacity or through caring for family member’s or friend’s children. It is also important to have some understanding of child development and how children’s needs can be met by their foster carers. Further support, advice and training can be offered to applicants during the enquiry and assessment process.

How long will it take to become a foster carer and what is involved?

There are three parts to becoming a foster carer: A three-day training course, background checks including Garda clearance and medical reports. The final part of the assessment involves approximately eight home visits which explore your background, support network, the experience of children, parenting, cultural and religious issues and a look at backgrounds of children in care. During these visits, it is explored the different backgrounds and needs of the foster child to assess what needs a foster carer could meet.

Each assessment is individual to the applicant(s). A general time frame for assessment, from initial enquiry to final approval is about six months. This can be shorter or longer depending on matters that need to be covered as part of the assessment.

Do I have to own my own home?

No. As long as you have a stable place to live with a lease and suitable for children…

What Types of fostering is there?

We need carers who care provide care to children on an emergency basis, short term, long term and carers can take a sibling group. We also need carers who could provide respite to children with medical /disabilities

What supports will I receive?

We offer a range of support to our foster carers. We provide on-going training on relevant issues to foster carers. This training is offered at various locations around Ireland.
If you are approved to foster, you will be allocated a link social worker who will visit you on a regular basis to discuss your experiences and to offer practical advice and information on any challenges you may experience.

We can also share information on what has worked for other carers and what additional needs children in foster care may have. Visits from your link worker will be in your home and at times that are convenient. Visits will be as frequent as is necessary to support you and the child placed with you. This could be weekly visits, but visits will not be less than every three weeks.

You can also access our on-call social worker 24 hours per day, if you have any queries, or if you need urgent support and advice.Through attending training courses you will also meet other foster carers and can get valuable advice and support directly from them.
We have a skilled team of social workers and social care workers who have a variety of interests and skills.

In certain situations we can offer additional supports such as:

  • Play therapy
  • MarteMeo support programmes
  • Direct work with a child on a particular issue (life story work, anger management, sexual health awareness, social skills development)
  • Individual training on issues specific to a difficulty arising in your home

Finally there is also an allowance provided to families to cover the costs of providing food, shelter, transport, clothing and education to a child in your care. This allowance is not considered as an income for tax purposes and should not affect any social welfare entitlements or tax credits that you are currently claiming.

I fostered for the Tulsa Child and Family Agency or another agency in the past, can I apply to Five Rivers Ireland?

If you are currently fostering or have fostered for another agency in the past, it is best to discuss this with a social worker in Five Rivers Ireland over the phone. It is also important that you discuss any intention that you have with your current fostering agency. Five Rivers Ireland will seek a report from your previous fostering agency in relation to how this went for the agency and any child placed with you. Five Rivers Ireland will still need to complete a comprehensive assessment even if you have been approved to foster with another fostering agency.

What’s the next step if I’m interested or want more information?

Please contact us on 018665290 or visit our website. We can discuss with you further what’s involved, send you information and arrange to meet with you to discuss becoming a foster carer.


© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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