Waters says foster parents are in it for the money

Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 00:00

Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay and columnist John Waters have clashed over the children’s rights referendum in relation to the role of foster parents.

The proposed constitutional amendment states that provision shall be made by law for the voluntary placement for adoption and the adoption of any child. If the referendum is passed, the existing requirement to demonstrate that the child would be totally abandoned otherwise until he or she is 18 will no longer apply.

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said children who wanted to be adopted had to wait until they were 17½ to approach the High Court saying they wanted to be adopted by their foster family “because the test is so high” when she appeared on RTÉ’s Frontline programme on Monday night.

Mr Waters, who was also on the programme, responded: “No, Minister, the reason is because there’s €325 a week being paid for foster children.”

He said €325 was paid to foster parents who looked after a child who was aged up to 12 years and €353 for a child up to the age of 18. That was why applications for adoption were made at 17½, he claimed.* "That’s the reason and that’s the key because that money goes at 18 anyway.”

Presenter Pat Kenny asked Mr Waters if he was suggesting foster parents were in it for the money. “The money is clearly part of it. €325. How many parents with two or three children couldn’t do with €325 per child per week?” Mr Waters replied.

When contacted, Mr Waters said his comments were factual and should not be subject to “emotive twisting”.

Mr Finlay said Barnardos worked every day with foster families who opened their homes to vulnerable children. “John Waters and those on the No side do these families a grave disservice when they suggest they are in it for the money,” Mr Finlay said. “Far from being ridiculed... foster families deserve our respect and our thanks.”

The Children’s Rights Alliance chief executive, Tanya Ward, argued that Mr Waters had “misread” the proposed amendment. She said unmarried and separated fathers would benefit from a Yes vote because judges would be required to listen to the voices of children.

*This article was edited on November 7th 2012