Foster Fam­ily Week: What does it mean to you?

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH -

Each year Foster Fam­ily Week is cel­e­brated na­tion­ally the third week in Oc­to­ber to rec­og­nize the con­tri­bu­tion of foster fam­i­lies to chil­dren and fam­i­lies in our com­mu­ni­ties. For ap­prox­i­mately 550 foster fam­i­lies in this prov­ince and the 740 chil­dren in foster care, Foster Fam­ily Week has a very per­sonal mean­ing.

For chil­dren in care who live in foster homes there may be sad­ness that they are not liv­ing with their bi­o­log­i­cal fam­ily, while at the same time they will en­joy the ac­tiv­i­ties planned to cel­e­brate this week; for chil­dren in care who live in staffed ar­range­ments be­cause there are not enough foster homes to meet the need, there will be a dif­fer­ent feel­ing; for foster fam­i­lies, it is a time when they can take pride in the role they play to sup­port chil­dren and their fam­i­lies in our com­mu­ni­ties. They can truly be proud that they have made a com­mit­ment to the well­be­ing of the chil­dren in our prov­ince, un­doubt­edly our most valu­able re­source.

For the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple read­ing this ar­ti­cle, Foster Fam­ily Week prob­a­bly doesn’t mean any­thing. Un­less we are di­rectly im­pacted or know some­one who is, we re­ally don’t think about child pro­tec­tion or foster care un­til a story (usu­ally neg­a­tive) hits the me­dia and then we all have our opin­ions and view­points, of­ten based on in­suf­fi­cient or in­ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion.

Let’s be hon­est; this is hu­man na­ture and it is not a judg­ment on any of us. We hope that as you con­tinue to read this ar­ti­cle, you will think about the chil­dren in our prov­ince (who may be your next door neigh­bour, a child in your child’s school, etc.) who is placed in foster care and no foster home is avail­able for them.

Foster care usu­ally tem­po­rary

In this ar­ti­cle we want to move you to ac­tion and we be­lieve the best way to do this is to talk to you about the chil­dren.

Chil­dren in foster care are chil­dren first, which means that the fact that they are in foster care is only one piece of their life ex­pe­ri­ence. It is not every­thing about them … it does not de­fine them.

Chil­dren who have spent time in foster care grow up to be suc­cess­ful adults and con­tribut­ing mem­bers of so­ci­ety. Most chil­dren go into foster care be­cause their par­ents are hav­ing some dif­fi­culty or prob­lem with car­ing appropriately for them. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that a child or young per­son is not/and can­not be re­spon­si­ble for what adults do or don’t do.

Foster care is usu­ally tem­po­rary, and chil­dren who go into a foster home usu­ally go back home to their bi­o­log­i­cal fam­ily. Foster homes are nur­tur­ing, safe, tem­po­rary place­ments for chil­dren un­til they can re­turn home. Many foster fam­i­lies and bi­o­log­i­cal fam­i­lies main­tain con­tact long af­ter chil­dren have re­turned home. Most bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents with time come to view the foster home as a sup­port and ap­pre­ci­ate what they do for their chil­dren.

So, what’s the rel­e­vance of this in­for­ma­tion to you? We would like you to con­sider for a mo­ment, if a child you love was to be re­moved from their home environment tonight. What would you want for that child?

Ide­ally, they would be able to stay in their home com­mu­nity to be close to their fam­ily and/or their own cul­ture, not be sep­a­rated from their sib­lings, go to their same school and be able to hang out with their same friends. This could only hap­pen if there were enough foster homes in our prov­ince to meet the need of chil­dren com­ing into care and, un­for­tu­nately, this is not our cur­rent re­al­ity.

You can help

This is where you need to ask your­self if there is some way you can help. Per­haps you will con­sider be­com­ing a foster par­ent your­self, maybe you will en­cour­age some­one you know who you think would make a good foster fam­ily to take the first step, per­haps you will con­sider be­com­ing a respite home where you only care for chil­dren ev­ery sec­ond week­end or a few days a month.

If you can’t do any of those things, then per­haps you could use this week as an op­por­tu­nity to talk about foster care and the need for more foster homes in your cir­cle of fam­ily, friends, co-work­ers.

A pre­sen­ta­tion en­ti­tled, “Foster Care: What you need to know” will be held on Thurs­day, Oct. 20 at 21 Pippy Place, Suite 108 at 7 p.m. If you’ve ever thought about be­com­ing a foster par­ent, please con­sider at­tend­ing this meet­ing or give us a call.

For more, visit www.nlffa.ca or e-mail amyk­endall@nfld.net.

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