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HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care Launch

4th February 2020

A fresh appeal for foster carers in Northern Ireland has been made today (6 February 2020), as a major new region-wide fostering recruitment drive is launched.

With over 3,300 children and young people currently requiring foster care here, HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care provides prospective and current foster carers with tailored support, advice and information.

The drive of a new public awareness campaign will be the recruitment of more foster carers, with the launch of a new website,, marketing and advocacy messaging from current foster carers and a newly structured Northern Ireland wide regional service.

Foster carer Richard Dougherty, with over thirteen years’ experience working with HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care, describes what fostering has meant for him and his family: “Fostering has been a great experience for my whole family. Our own children have grown up with fostering, and have developed skills such as empathy, kindness and compassion. It’s great to make memories with the children and young people and share birthdays.”

Richard and his wife Julie

Mr Dougherty encourages everyone to consider fostering.  He continued, “Don’t rule yourself out. There are many myths around fostering, but I would ask everyone to consider it. People from all walks of life can and do foster. There are challenges, but they are usually small and can be overcome with support from your social worker, and there are great ongoing training opportunities. Don’t let the challenges put you off; it is the most rewarding thing you could do: to give a child a brighter future.”

Una Carragher, Principal Social Worker, HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care explained: “Foster carers are ordinary people who are willing to open up their hearts and homes to provide care to other people’s children.  They will offer a safe and secure home where children feel valued, respected and cared for.  For some children and young people this will be for only a short period of time, whilst others require a home for a longer period.

“The need is huge here in Northern Ireland and we appreciate it’s not a decision which can be taken lightly.  Fostering is a commitment which requires careful consideration and we know from experience that it throws up many questions and potential barriers.  With our new campaign we’re taking a transformative approach to break down these barriers, to answer questions and provide information, training and support even before any commitment is made.

“The key message is that if anyone is even thinking about fostering, we would love to hear from them.  We’re aiming to make that as easy as possible with a single hotline (0800 0720 137) and our new user-friendly website.  Our team are here to answer any questions, to allay concerns and to provide support for these really important carers.”

Eilis McDaniel, Director of Family and Children’s Policy at Department of Health NI said: “We need a fresh approach to the recruitment of foster carers, to move away from how we h

ave always done things to doing something new; to transform. For the first time in Northern Ireland, we will have one regional Health and Social Care brand for foster care and one single point of contact for enquiries, information and referral.”

HSC Northern Ireland Adoption and Foster Care welcome enquires regardless of race, religion, language, culture, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation and they provide 24-hour support to all foster carers on an ongoing basis.

To watch Richard talk about his experience of fostering, please click here.