The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every walk of life – including foster care. We’ve received lots of questions about fostering and COVID over the past few months. Let’s take a look at four of the most pressing questions below.

Can I foster during a pandemic?

Lots of things are difficult to do during the COVID-19 pandemic – starting your life-changing foster care journey with Orchard Fostering is not one of them. We’ve been building brighter futures for children and young people for over a decade, so we’re well equipped to handle anything and everything – including fostering during COVID.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have successfully supported applicants through full assessments and approval processes. Carers that applied to us during the initial phases of the pandemic are now fully approved foster carers, caring for their foster children. The process remains the same, consisting of regular interactions with your assessing social worker as they collect information for their assessment report. If you’re interested in fostering and want a more detailed breakdown of what is involved in the assessment process, you can find out more on becoming a foster carer. Fostering during a pandemic might seem daunting – but at Orchard Fostering, we’re here to help you along the way.

What foster care supports do you offer for fostering during the COVID-19 pandemic?  

At Orchard Fostering, we offer a wide range of supports and additional services to all our foster carers. The COVID-19 pandemic has not changed our determination to ensure the best possible experiences and outcomes for our foster carers and their foster children. Our foster carers still have regular access to their dedicated social worker and the ability to call a 24/7 service around any immediate concerns. The full list of our additional services is available here.

One of the major side effects of the pandemic is a downturn in the quality of your mental health. Lockdown, self-isolation, social distancing, 5km limits, level five restrictions – they can all be very demanding on your emotional state and your mental wellbeing. Our internal supports are here to help get you through the difficult times we’re in – and your foster child, too.

How have Orchard Fostering’s foster care supports been impacted during COVID-19?

Despite the restrictions, our carers/families are still receiving all necessary foster care supports to help them in their roles as foster carers, ensuring the best outcomes for all families and young people in our care. Some of these supports have been adapted slightly to ensure everyone’s safety remains the primary consideration, with thorough risk assessments occurring on an ongoing basis.

The enhanced and therapeutic supports that Orchard Fostering offers have not been impacted by the current restrictions, as these supports are recognised as an essential service by the Irish Government. These supports are necessary to support and maintain placements, which is our primary goal for the families and young people we work with. All therapeutic disciplines (such as psychotherapy, occupational therapy, play therapy services) as well as education support within the service have ensured they make all necessary adaptations to guarantee this support occurs in the safest manner possible.

New applications and current assessments continue and have been adapted to ensure safety of applicants and staff team. For now, our initial visits have moved to online video calls and when visits resume they will take place in accordance with all government advice and with a risk assessment completed prior to any visit. Preparation training, children’s first training and First Aid will be provided online.

Orchard Fostering’s team of professionals continue to work and maintain all supports required by our families with regular check ins, supervisions and meetings continuing online. The social care team continue to provide supports and check ins with young people, birth children and foster carers through video calls, phone calls and email. Training is provided online and access to foster care support groups, activities, and children’s groups are also remaining available and working successfully online.

If you have questions about fostering and COVID, don’t be afraid to get in touch with Orchard Fostering today.