Here's how system works
CLOSE to 5,500 children are in foster care here.
Fostering differs from adoption in that the child remains a permanent part of their own family.
Children up to the age of 18 can be placed in foster care in one of two ways: voluntary, where a parent or family member asks the HSE for help; or as a result of a court order, where a judge decides it is in the best interests of the child.
Each child should have their own social worker who monitors their development. Due to HSE staff shortages, this has not always happened.
There are several categories of foster care: day foster care, where the child spends the day with their foster carer before returning home for the night; short- and long-term foster care; and foster care by a relative.
The maintenance of a link between the child and its family is deemed important, and HIQA has been critical of the HSE when this link has not been properly maintained.
Anyone can become a foster carer once they pass a vetting process.
Carers get a basic maintenance allowance of €325 per child per week for children under 12 and €352 per child per week for children over 12.