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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Health Minister announces £1 million support package for foster carers

Health Minister Robin Swann has agreed additional funding of almost £1 million to support foster carers and supported lodging hosts.

There are currently more than 3,000 children and young people living with foster carers or supported lodgings hosts in Northern Ireland.

This announcement comes on the same day that the Adoption and Children Bill is further considered in the Assembly. The Bill is a critical piece of legislation that will ensure children are put firmly at the centre of the adoption process. It will also strengthen support for children and families in need, children in care and young people who have left care.

Announcing the funding, the Health Minister said:

“Foster carers and supported lodging hosts in Northern Ireland are a vital part of the health and social care family. We know that care in a homely, family setting is most often in the best interests of care experienced children and young people, and leads to better outcomes for them in the longer term.

“During my time as health minister, I have had the privilege of meeting foster carers, and hearing about the satisfaction they get from seeing the children in their care grow and flourish. However, foster carers have also been open about the challenges they face, particularly during the pandemic.

“The additional funding package I have announced today is aimed at recognising these challenges and helping foster carers and supported lodging hosts continue the vital work that they do, during what remains challenging times for families here.”

The funding package will provide additional funding of £25 per week for each child or young person being looked after in these settings between January 2022 and March 2022.

Kathleen Toner, Director of The Fostering Network, said:

“I am delighted to have worked with the Department on achieving this outcome for foster carers. After two years of the pandemic, in which foster carers, and kinship foster carers, have proven their resilience, and their commitment to maintaining stability for the children they care for, I welcome the Minister’s statement today.

“The Minister’s support also clearly demonstrates the centrality of foster carers within health and social care, recognising the importance of foster care in achieving positive outcomes for children. We look forward to engaging with the Minister’s recently announced Review of Children’s Services to further highlight the challenges within foster care and work collaboratively to achieve change for the benefit of all children cared for.”

Payments will be made by HSC Trusts as part of the normal processes, and Trusts will start to make the necessary arrangements for payments this month.


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