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Welcome aboard, IFCO2014!

Welcome aboard, IFCO2014!

This year’s International Foster Care Organisation European Conference took place on 26-29 August in Waterford, Ireland. More than 200 participants, including 37 children and young people, from 35 countries across 5 continents, attended the four-day event. IFCO 2014 European Conference has become a new addition to the extensive list of regional and international conferences held by the International Foster Care Organisation over the past 30 years in a wide range of locations around the globe.  

Organised in close co-operation with Waterford Institute of Technology – the major provider of higher education in the South East of Ireland, with support of Irish Foster Care Association and Irish Care Leavers Network, the main objective of the conference was to provide both academics, policy makers, social care professionals, researchers, foster carers/parents, children and youth with an equal platform where they can share and learn, all united behind the common aim of helping children in need of alternative care. In his opening speech, IFCO President Volodymyr Kuzminskyi said:

The world has changed dramatically since 1981 when International Foster Care Organisation was established, however we are still far from that day when every child will have an opportunity to grow up in a loving family. Recent statistical estimation shows that around 24 million children live without their parents around the world. That equates to at least one in every 100 children. Our work is never ending, but all the more reason to keep working together.

The event showcased research, outcomes and the impact of foster care at individual, family, societal, policy and international levels. Key speakers included Dr Geoffrey Shannon (Special Rapporteur on Child Protection in Ireland), Prof. Robbie Gilligan (Trinity College Dublin), Dr Valerie O'Brien (University College Dublin), Dr Delia Pop (Hope and Homes, UK). With over 45 interactive presentations and workshops, 10 plenary sessions, extensive social programme, complementing networking event and exhibition stands running throughout the four days, the conference addressed important questions around foster care, and indeed, all alternative care as the holistic system that IFCO promotes:

  • How to prevent the separation of children from their families and what are the measures which support families to stay together
  • What is the future potential of foster care as a child care option
  • Multidisciplinary approach to fostering
  • Quality of foster care
  • De-institualisation and transition from institutional to community-based care
  • Importance of maintaining links with members of a foster child's birth family
  • How foster care can support entry to work for the young adult care leavers
  • What answers in terms of the best interests of the child can be sought from perspectives of complex trauma and attachment

For the first time in the history of IFCO conferences, two youth tracks have been developed and run side by side at IFCO 2014. 'EmpowerMEnt' track was designed for youth advocates who are still discovering and developing their own story. Another track focused on Advocacy; it offered advocates for youth who have already successfully utilised their voice for positive changes around them insights on how to continue doing so with a policy focus on a global level. A vibrant children’s programme for under 13’s has been kindly sponsored by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It provided a forum for children to meet, to play and to enjoy the company of other international children in the spirit of IFCO. Through shared activities, stories and projects the conference aimed to be as inclusive to children in foster care / from foster families as to the adult delegates, illustrating their love of life and truly valuing their resourcefulness, resilience and personal contributions.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the great success of IFCO 2014. We hope to see you at the next IFCO conference in 2015 in Sydney, Australia. For further details please visit or follow us on Facebook for instant updates and news.

Contacts: IFCO Secretariat  I   I +44 (0) 20 8144 7571   I Skype:

Our new website will be ready early in 2019. In the meantime you can still join, connect, learn and share at the current IFCO website. Don’t forget that you can also hang out with us on Facebook (link?) or keep up to date via Twitter (link?) 2629746000