Cost of private foster care 'huge'
DAIL QUESTION:Private firms are extensively involved in providing foster care to children, new figures show.
According to figures provided by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, private firms are being paid more than €1,300 per week per child to provide private foster care. She said 251 children were in private foster care at a weekly cost of €342,265, or a weekly cost of €1,363 per child. She confirmed that 360 children were placed in private foster care last year at a cost of €12.8 million.
Last night Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis, who lodged a Dáil question on the issue, described the costs as “huge”. The €12.8 million paid to private companies represents a 34 per cent increase on the €9.5 million paid to private firms that cared for 304 children in 2010.
Ms Fitzgerald said: “Private foster companies provide services to separated children seeking asylum and to the emergency out-of-hours placement service. The HSE retain the approval authority of the foster carer in all cases.”