Kinship care standards in Northern Ireland welcomed
The Fostering Network has welcomed the launch of new minimum standards for kinship care in Northern Ireland this week by the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.
The new standards have been developed in recognition of the growing number of children who now live with friends or members of their extended family, and will be used to assess and report on the quality of kinship care services provided throughout Northern Ireland.
Around 30 per cent of the 1,850 children and young people who are fostered in Northern Ireland now live with family relatives or friends in a formal kinship care arrangement, a 53 per cent increase since 2009.
Commenting on the news, Margaret Kelly, director of the Fostering Network Northern Ireland, said: “We have been working with the Department on these standards for some time so are really pleased they have now been published.
“We look forward to being involved in developing the policies and procedures that will enable these standards to be put into practice, and will be encouraging the health and social care trusts to directly consult with kinship carers to ensure their voice is heard.”
The Department has also said it will make the development of new standards for foster care a priority. Northern Ireland is currently the only country in the UK that doesn’t have fostering standards in place.
Kelly continued: “While the number of children in kinship care is growing, the majority of looked after children in Northern Ireland still live with foster families. Clear standards by which the quality of foster care can be assessed have been needed for some time, so it great to hear that the Government has committed to make them a priority.”