Dáil Éireann - Volume 616 - 21 March, 2006
Written Answers. - Child Care Services.
Mr. Gregory Mr. Gregory
170. Mr. Gregory asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the financial assistance that can be given to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7 for the full-time care of their three grandchildren; if an allowance similar to a fostering allowance is payable in addition to the normal children’s allowance; if not, the steps this person must take to foster the children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10282/06]
Mr. B. Lenihan Mr. B. Lenihan
Mr. B. Lenihan: The Deputy’s question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, the Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.
The foster care allowance can only be paid in respect of children who are taken into the care of the Health Service Executive under the Child Care Act 1991 and placed in foster care or relative care in accordance with the Child Care Regulations 1995.
The issue of relative care was dealt with in detail in the 2001 report of the working group entitled Foster Care — A Child Centred Partnership. The report sets out a number of basic principles that should guide placements with relatives. These are: that the best interests of the child are paramount; that the child should be placed only in an appropriate, safe, healthy and stable environment; that the standard of care must be equivalent to that provided in a traditional foster care arrangement; that relative placements should only be made where a secure attachment exists or has the potential to develop between the child and the relative concerned; that a partnership approach should be used in developing skills and supports for relatives providing foster care; and that placements should not be made as a means to provide income support.
The working group considered the possibility that some children are placed in the care of the  health boards in order to provide income support for the family in relation to the child. The group was strongly of the view that such a practice would be highly inappropriate. Income support is a matter for the Department of Social and Family Affairs and those in need of such support should contact that Department. The working group stated that children should only be brought into the care of the health boards if they meet the criteria regarding the need for care and protection set out in the Child Care Act. In addition, the choice of placement of any child in the care system should be based on the particular child’s individual best interests.
Under the current legislation, the Health Service Executive must assess the needs of a child placed in care and the suitability of the prospective foster or relative carers, and draw up a child care plan. The implementation of the child care plan places significant responsibilities and duties on foster carers, whether relatives or non-relatives. The foster care allowance is paid in recognition of these additional responsibilities and the additional costs of looking after foster children.
Dáil Éireann 616 Written Answers. Child Care Services.