The province of B.C. has adopted October as Foster Family Month, am opportunity to recognize the contributions that foster parents make to our community— and to dispel some myths around fostering.
B.C. has some 3,200 foster families who open their homes to around 5,300 children and youth. Here on the North Island around 38 homes are are available to take in the about 90 children in need, and social workers would like to see that number of homes grow.
There are a variety of reasons why the children are in care- for their protection, illness of a parent, marital difficulties and so on- and almost half return to their parents within a year.
Many people assume that they would be unqualified to be a foster parent because they are not married, or don’t own their home, or because of their income level, but Social Worker Nicki Therrien explained that these are not key factors.
“The kids come from all sorts of backgrounds so we need foster parents from all sorts of homes,” she explained.
“A foster parent needs to be committed, look after the child like their own family and take them in and make them feel like they are one of the family.”
As long as the prospective parents (or parent) are over nineteen and can provide three references they are eligible to apply, regardless of marital status and homeowner status. A process of home study and training then begins to ensure that the home would be a good fit for children and to provide the parent with the tools to succeed in fostering.
Events are planned to recognize foster parents this month on the North Island, with details to follow in the Gazette’s Hotspots section when finalized.
Anyone interested in learning more about fostering can check the province’s foster care website at www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/foster/ or call Therrien directly at 250-949-8011. As Therrien said, “Just call me and I’d be happy to come out and talk to you.” She said fostering was a rewarding experience and that she would love to see the number of available homes grow on the North Island.
“It’s all about giving back,” she explained.