Foster carers’ ‘dedication’ to young people honoured

Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland; Adele and William Costello, and Una Carragher, manager of HSC Regional Adoption and Fostering Service.  INCT 22-732-CON
Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland; Adele and William Costello, and Una Carragher, manager of HSC Regional Adoption and Fostering Service. INCT 22-732-CON

Three Carrickfergus foster carers have been recognised for their steadfast commitment to children and young people.

Yvonne Strange, along with William and Adele Costello picked up Foster Carers of Distinction awards at The Fostering Network’s Northern Ireland Awards on May 20.

Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland; Yvonne Strange, and Una Carragher, manager of HSC Regional Adoption and Fostering Service.   INCT 22-731-CON

Kathleen Toner, director of The Fostering Network in Northern Ireland; Yvonne Strange, and Una Carragher, manager of HSC Regional Adoption and Fostering Service. INCT 22-731-CON

Yvonne has been fostering for 31 years. She was nominated by social work assistant Jolene and foster son Peter, who has been with her for over 10 years.

Peter has just recently moved out with Yvonne’s help and support.

“She has been a mother to me from the age of five and she will always have a place in my heart,” he said.

The panel were impressed by Yvonne’s positive and upbeat personality and attitude to life, said a spokesperson for the Fostering Network. “Her love and devotion to every child she has ever cared for really shone through. Yvonne has always treated every child in her extended family equally,” the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, William and Adele began fostering in 2003 when they were 25. They have fostered many sibling groups over the past few years.

“You never walk away from kids; you keep involved with them as long as you can,” William told the judging panel.

One of their oldest foster sons, now in his early twenties, told the couple: “I wasn’t born to you but I was meant to be with you; you are the best parents in the world.”

The Fostering Network is Northern Ireland’s leading fostering charity. “We are passionate about the difference foster care makes to children and young people. Transforming children’s lives is at the heart of everything we do,” a spokesperson for the charity said.

Over 2,150 children live with over 2,000 foster families across Northern Ireland each day.

The Fostering Network estimates that at least 170 new foster families are needed across NI in 2016 alone. In particular there’s a real need to find foster carers for teenagers, disabled children and sibling groups.