Tuesday 25 October 2016

What’s it like to open your home to a foster child?

Published 26/04/2016 | 15:34

Foster family
Foster family

Deciding to become a foster parent is a big decision and daunting prospect. So what’s it really like?

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You don’t just open your home to a complete stranger unless it’s something you feel strongly about. And with the news full of stories about children who can’t find adequate foster care it is tempting to make your family a safe place for a child in need to grow and be happy. Of course there are all kinds of questions and concerns that should be answered before you do.

TUSLA, the child and family agency is the state body to turn to if you’re interested in fostering but there are alternatives. Five Rivers is an independent fostering agency that recruits, trains and supports foster parents and foster children.

For over 10 years Five Rivers has been helping find foster care for young people who cannot live at home. There’s a lot more to it than simply locating willing parents, but training, assessing and ongoing support of the foster carers is a key part of what they do.

Foster family enjoying a sunny day in the park
Foster family enjoying a sunny day in the park

If you’re interested in fostering or even just curious to know more, the experiences of others can be invaluable. Here are some testimonies from Five Rivers foster carers to give you an idea about what you can expect.

I’ve been a foster carer with Five Rivers Ireland for five years. During this time we’ve had many children stay with us, both long and short term. It’s hard to describe the feeling to see a child become comfortable and settled in your family, especially when they’ve been through a traumatic experience. Although sad, it’s very rewarding to see a child return to their family, where possible and know you helped them through that sad time. We had a little boy living with us for two years. We were heartbroken when he moved home, but himself and his Mum will be lifelong friends of our family. Our link worker, is more like a member of our family. She’s always there with a shoulder to cry on when a child leaves and offers endless support when a child moves in.

The 24 hours on call service is so reassuring. Even if you never need to use it, to know there is someone at the end of the phone if I need them, makes me sleep better at night. If you feel you have room in your heart and your home for a child in need, I can’t recommend Five Rivers Ireland highly enough


Five Rivers Ireland, Foster Carer

We joined Five Rivers Ireland approximately 2½ years ago after long consultations with them regarding our suitability and viability. We initially entered in to the ‘emergency respite service’ to test the waters, and whilst being sometimes difficult and testing, we also found it very rewarding. The support we received from Five Rivers Ireland is exceptional.

We have since taken on the role of full time foster carers to a 15 year old girl. She has been with us nearly two years and whilst it has been fraught with problems, with the help of Five Rivers Ireland staff we have been helped through major issues. Even though it has been tough at times, it also gives us so much and it makes you happy to be part of her care. All in all we are very happy to be part of the foster care team and working with Five Rivers Ireland has proved to be very successful


Five Rivers Ireland, Foster Carer

When we first started our journey with Five Rivers Ireland, little did we know the wonderful family we were about to gain, with all the fun and acceptance which that entails. As the days, weeks and months passed and placements were made, we experienced deep veins of support and guidance from all professionals. Every success was celebrated and each problem was shared, we never once felt alone. Training was always on offer and great fun, yet informative and helpful also. We have gained so much as foster carers and we can honestly say that in five Rivers Ireland we have gained as a whole family, in more ways than one

D and S. P.

Five Rivers Ireland, Foster Carers

Bringing children in to your home, helping them and seeing them change in front of your eyes is so rewarding! Knowing that what you do is helping the children and their families, it’s such a good feeling when all goes well and the children can return home. We found since we have fostered it has brought out feelings in us, we didn’t know we had.


Five Rivers Ireland, Foster Carer

Our initial assessment and training took place over a six month period and involved regular meetings with our link social worker from Five Rivers Ireland. We were trained for fostering in general, and for emergency care fostering in particular.

Initially, it was quite daunting to receive a phone call in the middle of the night seeking to place a young person in our care. However, we soon realised that there was nothing to fear and that the person coming to us was in need of an emergency place of safety. As emergency carers since June 2009, we have welcomed several young people, ranging in age from 6 months to 17 years into our home. Placements have lasted from just one night up to seven nights.

For us it has been a most rewarding experience. Our lives have been enriched, especially by the young people who came to stay with us, but also by all the carers and social workers with whom we have come into contact through fostering. We have always felt completely supported by the staff of Five Rivers Ireland and by our own link social worker in particular. It is reassuring to know that there is a social worker on-call 24 hours a day if the need arises.

We are truly glad that we became foster carers. We would recommend to anyone who has an interest in fostering to make enquiries about the different types of fostering possibilities to see which one they may be able to do.


Five Rivers Ireland, Foster Carer


Sponsored by: Five Rivers

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