SDLP Assembly Member Justin McNulty has highlighted the pressing need currently being felt by the HSC Adoption & Foster Care Service and recognized that when there is a family break up for whatever reason, foster carers step forward and literally change the world for children who’ve been sadly caught in the middle.
The Newry & Armagh MLA commented, ‘there have always been challenges in finding enough foster parents to care for children, but the recent pressures which have been brought to bear on our Health & Social Care sector by the pandemic have really exacerbated that need. The sad reality is that the presence of COVID has added pressures in many homes resulting in familial breakup, often leaving children in care.
‘There are currently over 3,000 children and young people across the North who are reliant on foster care and each individual child’s circumstances are very different. This is reflected in the fact that there are a whole number of fostering streams available to potential foster parents, for both short and long term fostering opportunities.
‘I want to recognise the incredible kindness and compassion of all the foster parents across our area – it only takes one caring adult to give a child a chance at leading a happy, successful and independent life. This week, we saw the heart-warming story of Jimmy & Lorraine Grant from Camlough, who have been fostering since 2012. Jimmy & Lorraine had a young lad placed with them who wasn’t from the area, so naturally they wanted to take steps to help him forge friendships with youngsters his own age. Naturally, the place they turned to for community support was the GAA – with the support of Anthony McClean & Barry Flynn, he was able to join a few training sessions. The Grants spoke about the happiness they felt when their foster son got a run out for Cruppen, and described the joy on his face when he made the starting line-up.
‘Very often, our airwaves and television screens are occupied by gloomy reports and bracing scenes, but stories like these are a welcome reminder that there is so much goodness in our people and in our communities. As a new father, I want to place on record by heartfelt thanks to foster parents all across the North who work in such a quiet and dignified manner behind the scenes, often without praise or recognition. These people have given of themselves to ensure that every child gets the start in life that he or she needs and deserves.
‘Jimmy, Lorraine, and the local GAA community in Carrickcruppen have shown us all that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ so to anyone who is considering becoming a foster parent, I would strongly encourage them to take the next step – it could literally be a life-changing decision, both for the foster carers and the child they will care for.’