One-third of foster carers have said that a lack of structure for their foster children during the Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge, according to a new survey.
The survey of 200 foster carers carried out by the Irish Foster Care Association in January also found that one-quarter of respondents said that facilitating family visits was “challenging” during the pandemic.
“This year has been challenging for our foster families, as it has for everyone,” said the association’s chief executive, Catherine Bond.
“But foster carers face unique challenges during lockdown which can bring added stresses and pressures on the family.”
The challenges include issues relating to family visits, accessing services, and anxiety among foster children, she said.
Bernard Gloster, chief executive of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, said the agency was providing services that support children and families at risk, including children in care.
“We know how important contact is for children and we are keeping in contact with children and young people using technology and, where necessary, visiting them in person,” he said.
The survey, which has been published to coincide with the start of the Fostering Fortnight campaign on Monday, found that 44 per cent of respondents said their foster children were more settled during the pandemic.
Thirty per cent of respondents had looked to their social worker, or “link worker”, for support at this time.
Some 76 per cent said they were happy with the support from their link worker at this time.
There were almost 6,000 children in care at the end of December, including 3,829 in general foster care and 1,511 in the foster care of a relative.
Some 94 per cent of children in general foster care and 91 per cent of children in relative foster care had an allocated social worker.
Fostering Fortnight aims to raise awareness of foster care.
The Irish Foster Care Association is hosting a series of online talks, get-togethers and family activities over the fortnight focusing on mental health and the wellbeing of the foster community.