Margaret loves them like her own
MARGARET has been a foster mother for 15 years and currently has three foster children aged 19, 17 and 11.
The 19 year old is in what’s called ‘After Care’ which is what happens children once they reach 18 years and are still in education.
She has fostered over 12 children in those fifteen years.
“Fostering was always something at the back of my mind because I had a sister with special needs and I used to see other children in Cregg and thought ‘wouldn’t you just love to help children who had no mum?” she told The Sligo Champion.
It was after she had two children of her own that Margaret and her family decided to foster.
They’ve had mostly longterm placements and the children she has with her now have been with her for the past 14 years, the youngest since he was four months old.
“I love them all like my own. I respect their families. I’ve a great relationship with all their families and to be honest with you, that’s what makes it work.
“When you have a good relationship with the family, because the child is not torn then between the foster family and the birth family. We accommo- date the birth family around access and special occasions etc,” she said.
“You do what is the best for the children. You look at the bigger picture. What do you do to make these children happy?
“Every child comes into this world entitled to a good life. We’re here to make sure that child gets a good childhood and get their education, be happy and healthy,” said Margaret.
One of her foster children was literally flying the nest for overseas the day we met.
“That’s what you do it for. You treat these children like your own kids too and you respect their families.
“I love it. I really do enjoy it. It does come with it’s challenges but it’s one day at a time.
“We get great support from here (Sligo,Leitrim, West Cavan Foster Care Resource Services). It’s very rewarding,” she said.
“If it will help a child it really is a good road to go down. I cannot understand why more people don’t do it,” said Margaret.
Is it hard to see a child leave your family if they return to their birth families?
“No, because if they return, it’s usually to a very positive environment and you encourage that.
“The family that may have had some intervention and it’s great to see the kids reunited with their family.
“It’s their happiness that’s the priority all along. That’s the goal , to reunite them with their family,” she said.
Some families just need some support to get back on their feet again, which is where the Sligo,Leitrim, West Cavan Foster Care Resource Services run from Markievicz House play a role.
“Once you see that the kids are happy to go back you know that you’ve done something positive. Even a weekend respite to give the parents a break.
“The overall goal is to ensure the kids don’t feel different from any other children,” she said.
“If you’ve time to give a child, you can foster. It’s not just traditional families,” said Margaret.