Fostering and cohabiting couples
When a child needs care or protection, or when they cannot live with their own family either on a short-term or long-term basis, they may be taken into care by the Child and Family Agency (Tusla). The reason for taking a child into care could be illness in the family, the death of a parent, neglect, abuse or violence in the home. Sometimes, it could be an economic reason, like unemployment.
Tusla will decide on the type of care that the child should be given, having regard to the "best interests" of the child. One of the options available to Tusla is to place the child with a foster parent or foster family. A foster parent is a person who is taking care of the child on behalf of Tusla.
Young people up to the age of 18 can be fostered.
Any person or family can apply to Tusla to be assessed as a foster parent or foster family. You do not have to be married to be a foster parent. In fact, you could be a single person, a cohabiting same-sex or opposite sex couple or a civil partnership. You must be able to provide adequate and appropriate accommodation for the foster child. There is a shortage of foster parents and new applications and enquiries are always welcome.
Tusla assigns a social worker to carry out an assessment of your suitability. These assessments include meeting all members of the family (particularly the foster parents) over a number of months. References, Garda clearance and medical examinations will also be required as part of this process. Every effort is made to ensure that those selected as foster carers and foster families are suitable.
You can read more detailed information about the types of foster care, rules, etc. in our document on fostering in Ireland.