Prov­ince lack­ing in foster homes

The Compass - - OPINION - Dear ed­i­tor,

There is cur­rently a short­age of foster homes through­out New­found­land and Labrador. No mat­ter how many times I say this out loud, I still hear sur­prised re­sponses from peo­ple who ap­pear to be hear­ing this for the first time.

Foster homes pro­vide a nur­tur­ing and sup­port­ive home en­vi­ron­ment to chil­dren who are tem­po­rar­ily un­able to live with their bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents. Our foster fam­i­lies are ded­i­cated and car­ing peo­ple who open their hearts and homes to the chil­dren of our prov­ince. Their work is to be com­mended. How­ever, they also need your sup­port. This sup­port can be shown by putting your name for­ward for con­sid­er­a­tion to be­come a foster par­ent, or at least ask­ing ques­tions to find out more about the ap­pli­ca­tion process.

We must con­sider that there are some com­mu­ni­ties without any foster homes. In th­ese com­mu­ni­ties, when chil­dren come into care, they have to travel out­side of their home com­mu­nity to be placed in a foster home. In ad­di­tion to the loss of their fam­ily home, they also lose the fa­mil­iar­ity of their com­mu­nity, friends and their school. Be­ing placed in a foster home in an­other com­mu­nity re­sults in ad­di­tional travel time for chil­dren to and from school, and to and from parental vis­its, etc.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem caused by the lack of homes is that when sib­lings come into care, they some­times can­not be placed in a foster home to­gether, at a time when they need each other the most. Con­sider for a mo­ment hav­ing to leave your home and your par­ents. Now, imag­ine the ad­di­tional trauma of hav­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence this alone, without the com­fort of your sib­ling(s).

Due to not hav­ing enough foster homes, cur­rent homes are some­times over­loaded, tak­ing more chil­dren into their homes than is ideal. This re­sults in an over­bur­dened sys­tem and some­times even hav­ing un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions of cur­rent foster homes.

I am writ­ing this let­ter to ap­peal to read­ers to think about be­com­ing foster par­ents. This does not have to be a life­time com­mit­ment of 10 or 20 years. Rather, pro­vid­ing tem­po­rary care for one child would be enough to make a dif­fer­ence in our cur­rent over- bur­dened sys­tem if enough peo­ple came for­ward.

Re­mem­ber, car­ing for our chil­dren is a com­mu­nity re­spon­si­bil­ity, and the chil­dren of this great prov­ince need you!

Any­one in­ter­ested in find­ing out more can call the New­found­land and Labrador Foster Fam­i­lies As­so­ci­a­tion at (709) 754-0213 or 1-877-754-0218 (Toll Free), or your lo­cal Child, Youth and Fam­ily Ser­vices Of­fice. For more in­for­ma­tion, you may also check out our web­site at www.nlffa.com.

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