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Home-sharers wanted for short-term fostering in Mayo

By Cian Molloy - 23 January, 2017

Would you be prepared to become a friend of a child or an adult with a learning difficulty or with a disability? Would you be prepared to become their friend?

The Western Care Association, a Mayo-based voluntary organisation, is looking for families, couples or single people who would be able to provide respite care and/or foster care to local people in need of additional support. This is an innovative scheme that is being pioneered by Western Care in Mayo.

Western Care has a Service Level Agreement with the Health Service Executive, providing supports and services to people with intellectual disabilities in Co. Mayo on its behalf.

“We are on a mission to recruit at least 20 host families within the next six months and to match a child to each family,” says Erin Scott, a social worker with the Western Care Association. “Home sharing is where families or single people take one of our service users into their home for a set period of time, it might be one Sunday afternoon a month or every second Saturday morning. Or it might be more intense, such as a couple of overnights a week or every month.

“The level of hosting provided is worked around the people who host the service user so their own personal lives are not impeded in any way. For example, one home-sharer may be in a position to offer a child or adult three weekend breaks a year, another might be available for occasional day or overnight stays.

“For the families of these children and adults with learning difficulties, home sharing provides them with some respite.  Constant caring can be demanding and at times may become overwhelming. The provision of home sharing has been found to reduce stress, strain and burnout in families, thus providing a valuable means of enhancing their coping resources.

“For the child or adult, home sharing provides opportunities to develop new relationships, participate more in their communities and experience an increased sense of inclusion.”

Home-sharers are entitled to a payment in line with the basic fostering allowance to cover the cost of having an additional person in their home. As guidance: for a family providing 24/7 foster care, the basic fostering allowance paid by TUSLA, the child and family agency, is €352 a week, tax free. For home-sharers in this scheme, who are only providing a part-time service, the allowance paid is a fraction of that.

Anyone volunteering to become a home-sharer will assessed by a Western Care social worker, such as Erin, as to their suitability, and all applicants will require Garda clearance, a Health Service Executive check, a reference from their GP and a minimum of two further references.

For more information see www.westerncare.com or contact Erin Scott on 094 9025133

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