Launch of IFCA's National Conference Programme of Events



The Irish Foster Care Association launched details of its national conference today.  Taking place in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Limerick from 1st – 3rd November, the conference theme this year is ‘Communicating Care’.  The conference aims to bring together all those with an interest in foster care, including general and relative foster families, health and social care practitioners, academics, students, teachers and policy makers to learn together, engage in dialogue, and share their fostering  experiences and best practice.

This year there are 22 workshops to choose from.  The new chair of Tusla—Child and Family Agency, Pat Rabbitte, will officially open the conference.  We are delighted that our keynote speakers for the plenary session this year are Judge Rosemary Horgan and Christina Enright, and Bride Rosney will moderate the Q&A which follows it.

This year we are introducing a new element into the conference, which will take place on Saturday morning.  Around the Table offers participants the opportunity to join one of eight facilitated small-group discussion on a theme that is particularly relevant for them. The intention behind this new conference strand is to facilitate the rich learning that can happen when exploring questions and sharing experiences within a confidential setting.

IFCA’s national conference is unique in that it offers stand-alone programmes for children and young people.  The children’s programme this year offers dance workshops, cookie decorating, bowling and an art workshop and the young people’s programme includes a trip to Jump Lanes and Escape Rooms in Limerick and a treasure hunt.  There is a family friendly quiz on the Friday night.

Speaking at the launch of the conference, Catherine Bond, CEO, the Irish Foster Care Association, said “We are delighted to introduce the theme of Communicating Care as this year’s conference with 22 workshops on a variety of subjects that will be of interest to a wide audience of both foster carers and those with an interest in foster care.   All of us working in the area of children in care know the importance of everyone working together cohesively for children. The aim of our conference this year is to stimulate debate and discussion on how we communicate effectively to achieve the best outcomes for children in care and to support those caring for them.

“Our annual conference offers a chance for all those involved in foster care to meet and exchange views and opinions, network, partake in workshops and hopefully come away from the weekend feeling more supported by the fostering community.  We are delighted to offer participants a stand-alone children and young people’s programme – this means our conference is family focused, offering an opportunity for the children and young people to partake in their own events and meet friends from previous years.” She added.



For further information please contact Sharon McDonnell on M: 087 2269324 or


**Catherine Bond, CEO, IFCA is available for interview



The Four C’s: Communication, Care, Comfort and Control.  A useful therapeutic technique for your toolkit with Andrew Kennedy and Tara Moloney

Through a presentation and interactive workshop, participants will receive an overview of a

Therapeutic Fostering Support Programme which supports placement stability. This is achieved by

focusing on strengthening the child-carer attachment relationship, effective communication,

reflective practice, therapeutic parenting and looking beyond the behaviour to meet the needs of the


Sea the Strengths: The Communication needs of children with FASD (primary-school age and secondary- school age) with Cynthia Silva

This workshop is aimed at carers and its focus will be identifying the strengths and needs of carers, and the child in their care who has suspected or diagnosed ND-PAE, (Neuro-Developmental Disorder of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure, (FASD). Participants will be helped to identify the strengths of themselves and their child, to explore ways to adjust communication and expectation, to develop an action plan for their child and to identify further education or activities that would be of help and support.

That fragile little bear: the crucial role communication plays in fostering, with Teresa Connolly and Amy Mooney

Amy became a member of Teresa’s family at the age of 12 having had numerous placement breakdowns.  In this workshop they will explore the experience of their fostering journey together.  In particular they will focus on the highs and lows of that journey and the barriers that had to be overcome in order for there to be a positive outcome. Participants will gain an understanding of how communication plays a key role in fostering outcomes. The workshop will look at how to choose wisely in relation to participating in minor or unimportant battles, and to instead save one’s strength for those that will be of greater importance.

Amy grew up in foster care, beginning at age nine: “I have encountered both positive and negative experiences during this journey. I am now 27 and I am still living with my foster family. I completed my social care degree in 2017 and have recently commenced working as a social care worker. I have a beautiful daughter who I hope to share the next part of my journey with.”

The BASICS Programme: The Brothers and Sisters in Care support programme with Olivia Lynch and Nicola Morrissey

The relationship with our siblings may be the longest lasting relationship of our lives. This relationship will usually last longer than the relationship you have with your parents, your husband/wife or partner or your children. Unfortunately, due to a lack of available foster families, brothers and sisters who come into care are often forced to be separated from each other at a time they need each other the most. The Brothers and Sisters in Care Support Programme is a model of care which Olivia Lynch and her colleagues have created to highlight the importance of siblings in one another’s lives. This workshop will explore the crucial role of foster carers and professionals in retaining sibling group connections from whom they have been separated, enhance knowledge of standards, policy and legislation concerning siblings in foster care and it will also expand knowledge and skills concerning siblings in foster care.

Managing Family Contact: A guide for foster carers with Joanne King and Mary Jacob

Every child in foster care has a biological identity that was established ever before they were placed in foster care.  Children who lived with their parents for a significant period of time before coming into care, may have an identity that is partly characterised by abuse or neglect. The challenge for foster carers is to understand what it is like for the child to manage two families practically and psychologically, in order to promote their wellbeing into adult life. It is important to recognise that it is normal for a child in care to want to know about and have a relationship with their family. In this workshop, participants will develop an understanding of the effects of separation on the child and their birth parents. They will gain an understanding of how to support the child in their care in dealing with birth family access. 

Managing birth parent contact for infants in foster care, with Helan Vaughan

There is a trend for infants in foster care to have high frequency birth parent contact in the early stages of their care. This time is critical in terms of brain development and attachment formation. The infant’s optimal development is predicated on having access to a consistent attuned care giver and a predictable routine. In reality, infants in foster care can have access four or more times a week, and can experience daily disruption to their routine, long car journeys and multiple care givers. This workshop will explore the potential impact of this on the developing infant and explore how infant access can be better managed and supported by professionals and foster carers. Individualised Child Centered Access Planning will be explored and tools for assessing infant contact will be presented.