Linking Global Foster Care in Ireland
With the clear aim to highlight best national and international practice in foster care International Foster Care Organisation - IFCO organized a conference "Linking Global Foster Care" on 12-17th of July in Dublin, Ireland.
Foster care parents/relative carers, childcare workers, social workers, managers, policy makers, residental careworkers, youth and all who have an interest in the provision of good services in foster care were invited to attend Linking Global Foster Care - Mirroring the New Ireland. The International Foster Care Organisation conference reflected the multicultural aspect of foster care, and was held at University College Dublin.
The conference provided a forum to share and learn about the strengths and challenges of fostering in today's world.
The following themes were in the focus of attention throughout the conference: kinship / relative foster care; education and foster care; aftercare; ethnic minorities in foster care; attachment in foster care, quality and standards in foster care; addiction issues and foster care; mental health issues in foster care; taking care of the foster family; gay and lesbian foster care issues; promoting the positive contribution of men in foster care; contact issues and birth families in foster care; youth and foster care; family diversity in global foster care; behavioural issues in foster care; supports in foster care; disruption in foster care; safe care in fostering; disability and foster care.
"Progress and struggles - developing family-based care systems since the collapse of Communism in Europe and the former Soviet Union 1989 - 2009" theme proposed for the international workshop was tackled by representatives of Czech Republic, Republic of Moldova, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The aforementioned workshops were aimed exclusively at policy makers and organizations that are members of the network, whereas six plenary sessions were open to the public.
Volodymyr Kuzminskyy, Country Director of EveryChild Ukraine and Board member of IFCO in his presentation highlighted the Child Welfare in Ukraine in the context of building precondition for gate-keeping. He stressed that the Government of Ukraine has demonstrated its commitment to children by declaring its intention to develop a deinstitutionalisation policy.
At the same time to reach considerable outcomes for children in care he proposed to develop and implement a package of Integrated Social Services for vulnerable families and children; develop and implement a mechanism for "gate-keeping" to limit access to the institutional system; build capacity of managers and social work practitioners; recommend changes to legislative basis to support new services.
Volodymyr identified main problems in the existing system of childcare in Ukraine as following: fostering is considered as a long term placement only; fostering in Ukraine is like hidden adoption; children can be placed into foster care only if she/he can have a status of a child deprived of parental care.
Over 550 enrolled people from 36 countries were able to listen to 208 speakers from different countries: Respublic of Ireland, Austria, Australia Croatia, USA, Japan, Northern Ireland, Georgia, Portugal, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Romania, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, India, Moldova, Ukraine, Czech Republic. The significant attendance, as well as the participants' interest and the high level of participation in the plenary tables and simultaneous workshops were noticed.
Chris Gardiner, co-founder of Eurochild member "In the interest of the child" (Czech Republic), was elected President of the International Foster Care Organisation during their 2009 World Conference.
IFCO is the only international network dedicated to supporting family foster care all over the world. Started in 1981, its members are individuals and organisations involved in foster care.
IFCO supports volunteers and national organisations worldwide. It is a networking organisation and also does projects drawing on a pool of international experts and trainers, from its training and development bureau. Young people are involved in IFCO's decision-making and have their own network worldwide.
IFCO offers a multi-cultural arena where children, young people, foster carers, parents whose children are in foster care, social workers, academics, volunteers, media and policymakers share experience and support each other to help to make a reality, the right of every child to live in a family.
Its work is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which enshrines children's rights to grow up in a family environment. The organisation states: "We believe that whenever possible children should grow up with their own parents or extended family. When this is not possible, a substitute family-based solution should always prevail over other out-of-home forms of care for children. We believe that care should be child and family focused and that diversity should be respected and valued."
IFCO is not involved in international adoption or fostering and believes the foster family should be as close to the family of origin as possible.
Pictures and the report of the conference will soon be available on http://www.ifco.info/.