Rec­og­niz­ing the im­por­tance of fos­ter fam­i­lies

The Southern Gazette - - Editorial - Di­ane Mol­loy Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor New­found­land and Labrador Fos­ter Fam­i­lies As­so­ci­a­tion

We all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity for the well-be­ing of the chil­dren of our province.

Happy Fos­ter Fam­i­lies Week to all our fos­ter par­ents through­out New­found­land and Labrador. Words seem so in­ad­e­quate when we want to ex­press ap­pre­ci­a­tion to you.

You are par­ents, teach­ers, coaches, men­tors, lead­ers, team play­ers, and that’s be­fore any job you may have out­side your home. You reach out to oth­ers and touch hearts ev­ery day. You mend hurts, build re­la­tion­ships, sup­port fam­i­lies, and make this world a bet­ter place by open­ing your hearts and homes. Thanks for ev­ery­thing you do for chil­dren and fam­i­lies in our com­mu­ni­ties.

Cur­rently there are ap­prox­i­mately 580 fos­ter fam­i­lies in our province and the num­ber of chil­dren com­ing into care con­tin­ues to in­crease. I want to take this op­por­tu­nity as we cel­e­brate Fos­ter Fam­i­lies Week to reach out to the other 265,159 house­holds in our province. I want to ask you to think about your fam­ily dy­nam­ics and to se­ri­ously con­sider if you have what it takes to be­come a fos­ter fam­ily.

What does it take you may be won­der­ing. It takes an in­ter­est in want­ing to sup­port chil­dren and youth and help a fam­ily in your com­mu­nity. It takes an open heart and an open mind that al­lows you to un­der­stand that any fam­ily can have strug­gles. It takes pa­tience, time and com­mit­ment. But most of all, it takes an abil­ity to love and let … know­ing that you have helped a child along their life jour­ney.

So what do you get in re­turn, be­cause let’s be hon­est that is also im­por­tant. You get an amaz­ing feel­ing of sat­is­fac­tion know­ing that you are help­ing oth­ers, you meet some awe­some chil­dren and youth who teach you some­thing new ev­ery day, you get to build re­la­tion­ships with birth fam­i­lies that can last long af­ter a child goes back home, you meet so­cial work­ers who of­fer their skill and ex­per­tise and you join a Fos­ter Fam­i­lies As­so­ci­a­tion that is there to sup­port you on your fos­ter­ing jour­ney.

On top of all that you re­ceive a fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion pack­age that is one of the best in the coun­try to help meet the needs of the chil­dren placed in your home. Fos­ter par­ents can be sin­gle or in a re­la­tion­ship; em­ployed or re­ceiv­ing in­come sup­port; renter or home owner; or any age 25 and above.

In case I have made it sound like be­ing a fos­ter fam­ily is all sun­shine and roses, I need to let you know that there are chal­lenges but our fos­ter par­ents would tell you that it is one of the best things they have ever done in their life. The in­trin­sic re­ward you get from mak­ing a dif­fer­ence for oth­ers, par­tic­u­larly chil­dren, over­rides any of the chal­lenges that arise.

As we cel­e­brate Fos­ter Fam­i­lies Week 2018, if you are a fos­ter fam­ily take the time to re­flect on the chil­dren who have lived in your home and the dif­fer­ence you have made in their lives. If you are not a fos­ter par­ent, maybe you could make a phone call to get more in­for­ma­tion or en­cour­age some­one else to con­sider fos­ter­ing. Per­haps we all could sim­ply thank a fos­ter fam­ily for all they do to sup­port our com­mu­ni­ties. We all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity for the well-be­ing of the chil­dren of our province.

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