Two children are being taken into care every week in the Western Trust area, it has emerged.
The revelation came as the Trust outlined details for Foster Care Fortnight (May 14 to 28), which it hopes will result in new foster parents coming forward.
Kieran Downey, Director of Women and Children’s Services at the Western Trust, has emphasised the very urgent need for more foster carers, saying the numbers were at “an all time high”.
There are currently 627 looked after children and young people in the Western Trust area.
‘Foster Care Fortnight’ aims to increase awareness of the need for more foster carers and recognises the central role that existing foster carers play in providing stable, caring homes for vulnerable children and young people.
Kieran Downey said the length of time that a child needs to remain in foster care varies, but that they would all benefit from having a stable, loving environment in which to live.
He said: “Foster carers care for children who cannot live with their own families.
“They provide alternative care where children can benefit from a loving, safe and stable home.
“They are committed to guiding the most vulnerable children, helping them build resilience and confidence for the years ahead.
“Some of these children require care for a short time, others need nurturing homes until they reach independence.
“The Trust is urgently looking for people who want to make a difference to the lives of children and young people by becoming foster carers.”
Vanessa Nelis, Fostering Recruitment Officer for the Western Trust said: “We are asking the public during Foster Care Fortnight to come and meet our staff at our information evenings.
“If you have previously thought about fostering in the past and never followed this up with us and you are now in a position to provide a safe, stable and nurturing home for vulnerable children and young people then we would love to speak to you.
“I would encourage anyone with any questions to come along.
“Being a foster carer can be a really rewarding and enriching experience.
“Recently, we asked some of our children and young people what their foster home meant to them.
“The feedback was extremely positive with comments including ‘Fun and loving; comfortable and cosy; I have enjoyed ever minute of it; they are wonderful and caring people’.”
Vanessa added: “People often think they can’t foster because they are single, work, or are too old, but none of these things matter.
“People from all walks of life can foster – don’t rule yourself out.
“If you are resilient, flexible and have the energy, time, commitment and feel that you could help a child to grow and develop through your care and support, then come along to our information evenings and find out more.
The Western Trust’s information evening in the city takes place on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, at Da Vinci’s Hotel.
Staff will be present from 4.30pm onwards should people wish to drop in and talk to a staff member from the Fostering Recruitment team to find out more about fostering.
There will also be a multi- media presentation and information sharing talk at 7.30pm which will give people the opportunity to talk to a current foster carer and hear their first hand experiences.