Fos­ter Fam­i­lies Week set for this month

The Compass - - CLASSIFIED -

A week-long cel­e­bra­tion that rec­og­nizes the valu­able con­tri­bu­tion made by fos­ter fam­i­lies to chil­dren in care, their fam­i­lies and the community is sched­uled for Oct. 21-27.

Fos­ter Fam­i­lies Week 2012 is be­ing staged at a time of sig­nif­i­cant change in the way the chil­dren-incare pro­gram is pro­vided in this prov­ince.

These changes have been high­lighted in the new con­tin­uum of care strat­egy, which was in­tro­duced by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

The strat­egy fo­cuses on re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing fos­ter fam­i­lies to pro­vide sup­port­ive, nur­tur­ing care to the prov­ince’s most vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and youth.

It’s been well doc­u­mented that there’s a crit­i­cal short­age of fos­ter homes in this prov­ince.

As such, the prov­ince has ear­marked a to­tal ex­pen­di­ture of $18.4 mil­lion over the next two years, with the aim to elim­i­nate cur­rent Al­ter­nate Liv­ing Ar­range­ments by im­ple­ment­ing a new sys­tem con­sist­ing of four lev­els — kin­ship care; fos­ter care, spe­cial­ized fos­ter care, and, staffed res­i­den­tial care.

Al­ter­nate Liv­ing Ar­range­ments are staffed emer­gency homes for chil­dren and youth who could be placed in a fos­ter home if one was avail­able.

The new sys­tem will pro­vides com­pen­sa­tion spe­cific to each level by rec­og­niz­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences, train­ing, and skills of fos­ter par­ents and match­ing chil­dren and youth with a fos­ter fam­ily who best meets their spe­cific needs.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of this level sys­tem w i l l be sup­por ted by en­hanced train­ing that will be de­vel­oped throughout 2012.

In par­tic­u­lar, Level 1 Kin­ship Homes will see a sig­nif­i­cant mone­tary in­crease. They will move from the e x i s t i n g C h i l d We l f a re Al­lowance, which had one rate for the whole prov­ince, to the cur­rent ba­sic fos­ter care rate which is much higher and rec­og­nizes in­creased costs in Labrador. It is expected that many ex­ist­ing fos­ter fam­i­lies will see in­creases as well as a re­struc­tur­ing of how com­pen­sa­tion is pro­vided. None of these fam­i­lies will see a de­crease.

The strat­egy also pro­vides an im­proved ap­proach to fund­ing for fos­ter fam­i­lies by im­ple­ment­ing block fund­ing. This means fos­ter par­ents will be re­im­bursed for cer­tain costs, such as so­cial re­cre­ation, trans­porta­tion, and week­end respite, in the form of a block trans­fer of funds rather than hav­ing to sub­mit re­quests in­di­vid­u­ally, and wait for ap­proval and re­im­burse­ment.

“The de­vel­op­ment of these en­hance­ments is very pos­i­tive news for the fos­ter care pro­gram in our prov­ince,” said Diane Mol­loy, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the New­found­land and Labrador Fos­ter Fam­i­lies As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Our as­so­ci­a­tion is look­ing for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work with the Depart­ment of Child, Youth and Fam­ily Ser­vices as the new con­tin­uum of care strat­egy is re­leased.” Draw­ing and writ­ing con­test Mean­while, as part of the cel­e­bra­tions, a pro­vin­cial draw­ing and writ­ing con­test is be­ing staged. This con­test is open to all school age chil­dren and youth, and is de­signed to in­crease aware­ness about fos­ter care.

Win­ners will be an­nounced dur­ing Fos­ter Fam­ily Week and prizes will be pre­sented at the win­ners’ school.

The dead­line to re­ceive ap­pli­ca­tions is Oct. 5.

A kick-off event will be held on Sun­day, Oct. 21 at Cor­pus Christi Parish Cen­tre on Waterford Bridge Road in St. John’s.

For more, call 754-0213, or toll free at 877-754-0218.

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