meet the origins team
Origins Foster Care was set up by Directors Eugene Bigley and Mieke Ryan, who both have extensive experience working with vulnerable children and foster families.
Eugene and Mieke recognise the need for a holistic and therapeutic foster service, where the foster carers and families receive a nurturing, specifically guided, supportive framework to welcome vulnerable children into their homes and grow positively, enjoying the fostering experience.
Through their years of experience in talking to Foster Families and Foster Children, working with Clinicians, sitting on Committees, working with the Courts and acting Chairperson for foster care applications – they have developed a holistic, therapeutic and nurturing framework of support for carers, that aids, enables and assists in creating a solid family framework which embraces every function of the foster family unit journey.
Head of Fostering
Mieke has been working with children in care and their foster carers since 2003. Throughout her working career her focus has been on promoting positive placements for the children she works with, through supporting foster carers, enabling and empowering them to care for and nurture the vulnerable children placed with them.
In supporting and working closely with foster carers and fostering teams, Mieke has developed placement plans and therapeutic approaches to promote attachment, resilience and emotional support for children and their carers.
Mieke holds a master’s degree in Social Work from TCD, the National Qualification in Social Work and a master’s degree in Child Art Psychotherapy from UCD. She is fully Garda Vetted, a member of the IASW and registered with CORU. Mieke has engaged in additional training in the areas of attachment, infant mental health, developmental trauma, mentalisation and reflective parenting for foster carers.
Mieke has worked as a Guardian ad Litem since September 2013 and during this time has been appointed nationwide in both the District and High Court.
Eugene, a professionally qualified social worker, for over 30 years. With experience working both in the public and independent sectors, with foster children and families. Eugene has sat on approval committees and acted as Chairperson in relation to foster care applications.
Eugene strongly believes in supporting foster carers through providing a solid framework for managing the vulnerability and distress children experience when being placed with a new family. Throughout his career, Eugene has not only been a link social worker, but managed teams who worked directly with the foster carers.
Eugene has been instrumental in developing supports for Foster Careers, helping children overcome their early childhood experiences and witnessing the difference that a positive influence makes in children’s lives.
Throughout his own career and working with excellent, well informed clinicians, he has been proud to be part of a service that clearly proves how a good and well supported family environment can achieve such fantastic outcomes for children in alternative care.
Incorporating his extensive knowledge, gained over 30 years of working with foster families, foster children and excellent clinicians, Origins Foster Care will provide a holistic and therapeutic service, where Foster Careers will gain all the support needed.
An extra insight into the personal life of Eugene: Eugene is a father of four children and grandfather to one!
Bernadette, with over 20 years as a qualified Social Worker, brings a depth of knowledge and practice from her work within child and family services both in statutory and voluntary sectors. She has worked within the child welfare/protection services, fostering (both general and specialised) and adoption services as well as therapeutically with child survivors of child sexual abuse.
Bernadette also brings experience of working within family support services, of developing new models of support with families and more recently experience within the community adult mental health services.
Bernadette has experience within the field of education having lectured in several third level institutions. She brings a varied and enhanced skill set, most notably the skill of assessment across several domains, training and support of foster carers and students, the delivery of specialist programmes and evaluation.
Bernadette holds an M.Phil (Social Work Research) from Trinity College Dublin, Masters of Social Work and a Bachelor of Social Science, both from University college Cork. She has completed training in Neurophysiological Psychotherapy and has a special interest in the understanding how the brain is impacted by children’s early adverse experiences and the impact of trauma on foster carers and professionals. Bernadette is currently working as part of a team designing the standardised preapproval training for foster care applicants on behalf of the Irish Foster Care Association.
Nikki like all our Social Work team is CORU registered. She has been working as a social worker with children, their families and carers for almost ten years.
During this time Nikki has worked as a social worker and social work team leader with Tusla (formally HSE). In working with children and families Nikki has always strived to work in a collaborative and creative way to ensure that the team around the child can provide the most safe and nurturing environment for that child.
Nikki holds an honours degree in Social Work from Trinity College Dublin and the National Qualification in Social Work. In 2017 Nikki was awarded a Specialist Award in Social Work in the area of risk assessment from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, for her training and work in the area of risk assessment of adults and children who may have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour.
In recent years Nikki has engaged in and continues to study in the areas of attachment, developmental trauma and therapeutic social work practice.
Catherine has worked in the Private foster Care Sector for several years.
Prior to working in the Social Care Sector, Catherine worked as a Marketing & Project Senior Manager in a commercial capacity. Catherine’s role as business manager focuses on the recruitment of Foster Carers through generating and maintaining an awareness for the continual demand for Foster Carers via social media and all Origins Foster Carer Marketing Sources.
Having worked closely over the years with the various Tusla Social Work Placement teams, she is fully aware of the needs of the children and young people that are referred to Origins Foster Care Service and how these needs must be reflected in the criteria required to become an approved Foster Carers.
Like all Origins Foster Care Team members, Catherine has completed training in Children’s First, SERAF, Safer Care, train the trainer and several other relevant courses to maintain a current knowledge of both the operational & statutory obligations of working with Foster Carers and providing placements for Children & Teenagers.
Karen has significant experience working in the area of community development.
She has experience in many areas within children in care including family support work and co-ordinating foster care training programmes.
Karen works closely with all members of the Origins Team and Foster Carers and is central to managing administrative operations.
As Office Manager, Karen supports the Origins Team, foster care applicants and foster carers through the fostering process and is also happy to answer any queries that she may receive.
Like all the Origins Team, Karen is committed to her continuous professional development to ensure she maintains a high level of service.
Denise has been working within the private foster care sector as an Administrator since 2014.
During this time, she has gained valuable experience and knowledge working as a senior administrator. Denise works closely with the social work team, recruitment team, foster carers and the foster care committees.
Denise is passionate about her commitment to supporting foster carers from application through to approval.
Denise has completed several certified training programmes to enhance her ability to provide a supportive and professional role within the Origins Foster Care team.