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Foster Care

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 20 October 2020

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Questions (443)

Cathal Crowe


443. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration if plans are in place to review the foster care allowance given that the allowance has not changed since 2005. [31052/20]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I currently do not have any plans to make any changes to the Foster Care Allowance. However, an extensive review of the Child Care Act 1991 is being carried out in my Department, which will examine foster care arrangements as part of the overall review.

The Foster Care Allowance is €325 per week per child under 12 years of age and €352 per week per child aged 12 and over. The allowance is paid for the child in order to allow foster carers to meet all of the child’s daily living needs including food, clothing, basic travel, education costs, hobbies, and sporting activities. The Foster Care Allowance is tax free and not included in means testing for Social Welfare.

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge foster carers as the backbone of our child care services in Ireland. Foster care is the preferred option in Ireland for children who cannot live with their parents or guardians, and as of June 2020, the most recent date for which figures are available, 91 per cent of children in care were in foster care or relative foster care (65% and 26% respectively). A number of targeted supports are available to foster carers to ensure they continue to function as a recognised and valued part of the alternative care system. These supports include a link social worker, access to training and support group meetings, and the allocation of a social worker for each child in care.

It is important that foster careers can access specialist services to meet a child’s identified needs. Respite care for children may also be arranged, if part of their care plan. Pre-assessment and continuous training is compulsory for foster carers in order to equip them with skills and knowledge to provide high-quality care. The specific dynamics and the personal nature of relative care mean that Tusla addresses the training needs of relative foster carers separately. Also, Tusla provides funding to the Irish Foster Care Association, which provides supports to carers such as advocacy, mediation, training, and a phone advice service.