An urgent appeal for new foster carers to come forward has been launched by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust as the number of children who require permanent placements with families in foster care continues to grow.

Across the Southern Trust there are children of all ages who may never be able to live with their birth parents. 

The vast majority of children in care live with foster carers. However, in the Southern Trust area, there is an ongoing shortage of ‘forever homes’ where the child will live long term with the same family for the rest of their childhood.

If you are resilient, flexible and have the energy, time and commitment to care for a child or young person you should go along to their information evening on Thursday 11 May 2017 at The Seagoe Hotel, Portadown between 7-9pm. You will have the opportunity to speak with carers, meet social workers and learn more about specific children needing placements. The event is open to all members of the public. 

The Family Placement Service will be available to guide you through the training and support that is available, including financial allowances and tax benefits. Carers receive up to £191 p/w for general fostering and £524 p/w under the intensive support scheme.

Being a foster carer does not necessarily require a full time commitment. There are a wide range of children who need looked after for varying amounts of time. The information evening will also share details about alternative types of fostering that are required, including emergency, respite and short term care. 

There are no unwanted children. Just unfound families. Don’t rule yourself out.  

To register your interest call 028 38 337181 or email fostering&This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 County Armagh Foster Carer shares her story 

A County Armagh foster carer has shared her story of how she, her husband and their two children opened their house to young people who needed a loving home and are now long-term foster carers to two siblings aged 9 and 14 .

“If we don’t love them, then who is going to do it.

“This was the question posed to Brian and I by our eight year old daughter at the dinner table two years ago.  

“She had been watching a children’s programme featuring a group of children who lived in a children’s home and wanted to know why we couldn’t foster children in a similar situation. Our son who was eleven pointed out that we had a spare bedroom and so we were fully equipped.

 Brian and I had been married for thirteen years and after having my first child I was told that swollen and worn discs in my back would prevent me from having further children.  

“We did not want our son to be a ‘lone ranger,’ so we considered adoption.  

“Unfortunately I was also born with clubbed feet and although I could walk, the pain in one foot became unbearable so we had to put the adoption process on hold.  

“Some time later my back was examined again and the consultant advised that one more pregnancy would not cause further damage.   

“Life was busy with two small children and my disability plus I taught part time and Brian is self employed as a farmer; we had enough in our family life.  

"But who is going to love them, if we don't?”  On the inside cover of my teaching pay slip the question asking employees to consider fostering was written in bold print and my mind was cast back to the adoption preparation course.  

“Brian and I talked lamented, questioned, worked out the practicalities and the affects on our children over two years.  

“I taught children in foster care and asked myself who else could respond to our love and care if we fostered them.  

 “By this time Brian was approaching his 50th birthday so we needed to decide or both of us felt we wouldn’t have the energy for younger children and we felt drawn to that age group.  

“Then the conversation at the dinner table took place and with the whole family committed to the venture we approached Social Services.

“Since then we have had constant support and help from all the Trust employees and have been very impressed about how they care for our family as much as the children we foster.  

“They have equipped us through courses and written material to know how to deal with new emotions and situations.  

“The foster children have been amazing! They have responded positively to the physical care, time and laughter as we navigate life, all the time building their sense of safety, value and worth.  

“Some things take patience and a different approach but with the correct support and advice we are all learning together.  

 “Our children have gained valuable life skills such as sharing, patience, forgiveness and compassion.  

 Brian and I have a terrific circle of professionals and fellow foster carers that we can call friends.

 “If you don’t love them, who is going to?” Children need loving homes, time and practical care so join the team and be one of the people who just does it.”

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