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Thursday, 11 May 2017

Webwatch: New App for foster care professionals working in Northern Ireland

Written by The Editorial Team

A new Health and Social Care (HSC) app for foster carers, ‘Fostering in a Digital World’, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland has just been launched.

The app uses an innovative platform that has been developed specifically for and with HSC foster carers across the South Eastern HSC Trust and in partnership with the INEQE Group. It has been available to foster carers in South Eastern HSC Trust since November 2016 and is now rolled out regionally to the other four Health and Social Care Trusts (Belfast, Southern, Northern and Western).

At the launch of the app in Parliament Buildings, Chief Social Work Officer, Seán Holland, welcomed the production and roll-out saying: “The design is impressive. While I welcome the training, support and advice it provides to foster carers in how to keep children safe in an online world, one of its key strengths is the guidance and advice it provides on the language required to aid discussion and engagement with children and young people – in other words, to be able to talk their language. I am hopeful that foster carers will find it useful, will be empowered by it and that children will be kept safer online as a result of it.”

The app, which was developed with a group of foster carers and professionals, allows for direct communication from each of the five Health and Social Care Trust’s Fostering Services with their foster carers. Foster carers also have direct access to INEQE staff who will provide updates on new technologies and platforms.

Kathy Cumming, who fosters for her local HSC Trust said: “Within the first ten minutes of using the app, I already learned several things that I didn’t know before. I now use it on a daily basis to stay up-to-date with the technologies that young people are growing up with. Because of the learning within the app and knowing advice is only ever one click away on my mobile phone, I feel much more confident now in keeping young people that I care for safe online.”

Any member of the public can access the public side of the app if they are interested in finding out more about fostering. They will be able to access information and be directed to the Regional Fostering and Adoption Service website.

The app is currently available for download from Android and Apple stores.