Almost 700 children in care in Derry area

It has been revealed that 699 children and young people are in care in the Western Trust area, as HSC NI Foster Care makes an urgent appeal for foster carers.

It is reported that there has been a sharp decline in foster care applications recently while the Western Trust area has the highest number of children and young people in care ever recorded.

Currently over 2,800 children and young people in the north rely on foster care. Around 699 children and young people are currently in the care in the Western area. More foster carers would allow more children to be placed with families where they can grow, learn and reach their potential. A shortage of foster carers means that children and young people may have to travel significant distances to school, and even have to move outside their local community, away from their school, family and friends, and miss out on enjoying their hobbies and interests.

Catherine McKevitt, Head of Service for Fostering in the Western area said: “The sharp decline in applications has led to a current shortage of available foster carers in the Western area for children of all ages. We really need more foster carers to come forward to help meet the needs of many children requiring urgent and immediate homes.”

There are currently 699 children and young people in care in the Western Trust area and that figure is increasing.

Catherine continued: “Fostering is a challenging yet immensely rewarding experience, and foster carers often describe it as the best thing they’ve ever done.

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 and commitment to become a foster carer, please come along to our information sessions to talk to our experienced social workers and foster carers and hear about the range of support which we offer all our foster carers.

Maggie Crawford has been fostering for over 10 years in the Western Trust area. She first went along to an information event and said this was a great first step to becoming a foster carer. Maggie said: “The qualities you need to be a foster carer are an open heart, an open mind, kindness, empathy and patience.

“I love it! Teenagers I fostered years ago still come to visit me at Easter and Christmas, they even bring their own children now to see me and that’s just awesome! They really appreciate everything I did for them.

Foster Carer Maggie Crawford with her daughter

“Within the Trust, they offer you lots of support, lots of different types of training, you are never alone in the process of fostering.

“If you can change one child’s life, if you can give them safety, security, warmth, a roof over their head, food on the table and clothes on their back. Do it, put yourself forward and see what happens.”

The information sessions are being held both virtually and face to face throughout the Western area on:

13 September 7.30pm – 8.30pm Virtual Fostering information event

20 September 7.30pm- 9pm Fostering Information Event Da Vinci’s Hotel, Derry

6 October 7.30pm – 8.30pm Virtual fostering information event

11 October 7.30pm – 8.30pm Virtual Information event for fostering teenagers

8 November 7.30pm – 9.00pm Fostering Information Event Silver Birch Hotel, Omagh.

6 December 7.30pm – 8.30pm Virtual Fostering Information Event.

There is no need to register, everyone welcome. Please see Western Health and Social Care Trust Facebook page for sign in details for our virtual events.

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer, or just want to find out more about what is involved, call HSC NI Foster Care on 0800 0720 137 or visit adoptionandfostercare.hscni.net.