Health Minister Robin Swann today launched an 8-week consultation on draft Foster Placement and Fostering Agencies Regulations for Northern Ireland.
The draft regulations aim to strengthen the operation of fostering services provided by Health and Social Care Trusts and independent fostering agencies.
The draft Regulations were previously consulted on. Regrettably, it has not been possible to progress the Regulations. Given the passage of time since the Regulations were last consulted on, it is considered that a further consultation exercise is necessary to be able to progress the Regulations.
There are now more than 3,500 children in care in Northern Ireland, the highest number since the introduction of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. Most of these children are living with foster parents.
Health Minister Robin Swann said "The majority of children, who are in care, are cared for by foster carers, who provide loving, caring, warm and stable family environment. As the number of children in care continues to increase, we will need more foster carers. These draft Regulations are intended to ensure that the process for assessing and approving prospective foster carers is as seamless as possible, that the best interests of the child remain at the forefront of decision making and offered the maximum protection and that foster carers are properly supported."
The consultation is due to finish on 23 December 2022.