Foster Family Week: What does it mean to you?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.