Foster carers play a crucial role

Helping vulnerable children

Sir, – Contrary to popular belief, foster carers are not a superhuman breed, despite what their friends, peers and colleagues might say.

Words like “amazing”, “unique”, “extraordinary”, though well meaning, only serve to cement the pedestal foster carers are often placed on, and we lose sight of who these people really are – ordinary human beings who give a secure safe space, and so much more, to Ireland’s most vulnerable children.

Worse again, we run the risk of deterring the very people who would be the best of foster carers, as they often feel they do not have what it takes.

Yet we have almost 6,000 children in care and not all of them have carers. That is the equivalent of filling every seat in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre with children for three nights in a row and seeing 500 of them with no homes to go to because there are not enough foster carers in Ireland.


March 4th to March 8th is Fostering Awareness Week, five days to attract 500 more foster carers at the very least. It is a national crisis!

However, to change one child’s life only needs one ordinary person with a kind heart, so maybe, before we heap praise on our foster carer friends and in the same breath state “Oh, I could never do that!”, we should instead stop and ask ourselves “Could I possibly do that?”

I did – and found that I actually could.

We need to change the rhetoric, because fostering isn’t about superheroes promising to give every child a happy ever after but rather working as a team to create a positive “after”, despite everything that came before, and the people best placed to do this are just ordinary people with ordinary lives who get to be part of something extraordinary. – Yours, etc,