There are more than 1,000 children and youth in care on Vancouver Island in desperate need of a foster parent.
Helping just one can have a positive impact on that child and the lives of many other people as well, said Dan Malone, executive director of the Foster Parent Support Services Society.
“There is a significant need for foster parents in all of the south Island, from Duncan to Salt Spring Island, from Sidney to Sooke,” he said. “They need a temporary home, a safe haven where they can stay while they and their families heal and become strong again.”
Part of the difficulty in finding good temporary homes is that many people have common misconceptions about the process, noted Eva Vowles, education co-ordinator for the Foster Parent Support Services Society.
“You don’t need to be a two-parent family living in your own home,” she explained. “You can be a single person renting a condo. We need a diversity of foster parents and homes so we can find the best fit for each child. It makes a huge difference when you can place a child in a home that meets that child’s needs. That may involve different circumstances for children, depending on their individual needs.”
Although there is always a high need for homes for teens, Malone said the demand is presently across the board. “Homes are needed now for children of all ages, from infants to teens.”
Vowles said all children in care are experiencing some form of trauma just from being temporarily removed from their families.
“Our goal is to return the kids to their home when it’s safe and the proper supports are in place,” she said.
There is also a need for foster parents for the Safe Babies program. Safe Babies are babies prenatally exposed to drugs and/or alcohol. They have complex needs that require special care, which is provided through Safe Babies Caregiver Training.
Foster Parents Support Services provides support and on-going training to foster caregivers on Vancouver Island. “If you choose to become a foster parent, you won’t be doing it alone,” Malone said. “You will be part of a foster community that includes peer support, mentors, local area co-ordinators and community resources.”
Foster parents receive a family care rate to cover the child’s expenses while they are in a foster home. The rate varies, depending on the age of the child.
There is no set length of time in foster care. It depends on the circumstances of the individual child and his or her birth family, Malone explained.
“We are happy to talk to anyone to explain what’s involved and what it’s like to be a foster parent.”
Information sessions are conducted regularly for people interested in finding out more about foster parenting. Evening sessions are scheduled on Wednesdays on Sept. 13, Oct. 11 and Nov. 15 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Lunchtime sessions on Wednesdays as well are available on Sept. 27, Oct. 25 and Nov. 29 from noon to 1 p.m. Call 778-430-5459 to talk to someone about foster parenting or to register for an information session. You can also visit fosterhope.ca for an in-depth look at foster parenting.
Find all of the stories that were in the fall West Shore Family publication online here.