The contribution of foster families, who have given decades of care to children in the west, is being recognised at a Mayoral reception in Galway.

The event at City Hall will pay tribute to more than 30 families, who have each given more than 20 years to providing foster care.

The Mayor of Galway said she wanted to honour what she termed "the invisible meitheal" that assists parents and families under stress.

Cllr Clodagh Higgins said the support they had provided to hundreds of children, ranging in age from newborn babies to their late teens, was a vital cog in the lives of those they assisted.

Among those being recognised are Deirdre and Mike Burke, from Milltown in North Galway. Over the last 35 years, they have opened their home to more than 80 children.

Mrs Burke said she had loved every single minute of that time: "It always was something that appealed to me…it's really good to know you’re helping a young person to develop and live their life and gain their wings…the years go by very quickly and while we have them, we love them."

She said fostering had changed over the years but her own family of six children had adapted to the task and had been involved in all aspects of care provision over three and-a-half decades.

"It can be challenging for your own children as you’re balancing and juggling family life, but you just get on with it and do your best. Some stay for a few weeks, others for years."

The interim CEO of Tusla, Kate Duggan, said it was important to acknowledge the important commitments foster carers made and the positive difference that resulted from their actions.

The child and family agency has appealed to the public to consider fostering, saying the stories from those involved in the provision of care in the Galway area were a testament to the role they played in helping children and adolescents achieve their full potential.