Providing hope and support to some of the province's most vulnerable children and youth - thousands of foster families make this remarkable contribution to society every day.
October is Foster Family Month in British Columbia, a time to honour the care, compassion and commitment of the 3,300 foster families in the province who open their hearts to give children a safe, nurturing and supportive home when they are unable to be with their own families.
An event to celebrate the 21st year of Foster Family Month in B.C. was held at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria today, the first of many appreciation events in communities across the province throughout the month.
Fostering enables children, youth and their families to come through some of the most challenging situations and, by building on their strengths, helps to develop the resilience they need to reach their full potential.
The B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations and the Federation of Aboriginal Foster Parents offer support, encouragement and a voice for B.C.'s foster parents. In partnership with the provincial government, the organizations focus on public awareness and recruitment and retention of foster parents to help build the best system of care for B.C.'s children and youth.
This year, the start of Foster Family Month coincides with National Family Week (Oct. 3-9), another opportunity to reflect on the many benefits of being part of a family.
Raven Racheal Wright, former youth in care -
"To all my relations, on behalf of all B.C. youth in and from government care, I express my gratitude to both the caregivers and the service providers who supportively guide us on our journey toward independence."
"Because of this continual dedication and determination to improve the lives of children and youth in care, we are not just surviving, we are thriving".
Heather Bayes, foster parent / president of the BCFFPA -
"I would like to add my own thanks for all the work that foster parents do to keep our children healthy and safe. Foster parents are truly the unsung heroes for youth. They are there no matter what the issue is to support and teach and most of all love - often putting the needs of the youth above their own."
Gary Mavis, executive director of the FAFP -
"I am very honoured to publically thank the thousands of caregivers who look after children and youth in care, sometimes for many years and often making a lifelong connection. I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation for the extraordinary work you do every day."
- Foster family homes are the primary placement resource for children in care. B.C. has approximately 8,100 children and youth in its care. Of these, about 5,900 children and youth are placed with approximately 3,300 foster families across the province.
- Twenty-six per cent of children in care who are adopted in B.C. are adopted by their foster family.
- There is always a need for more foster families of all cultural, social and ethnic backgrounds so that children in care can maintain their cultural and community connections.
- Anyone, 19 years or older, who wants to share their home with a child in need can apply to become a foster parent.
- Foster parents must be in good physical and mental health. They receive training and undergo background, criminal record and reference checks. On average, the approval process takes three months.
- Once the approval process is successfully completed, new foster parents sign an agreement outlining their responsibilities and complete the 53-hour B.C. Foster Care Education Program within two years.
There are different types of foster homes:
- Restricted foster parents care for children they know or are related to their family.
- Regular foster parents provide care for up to six children of varying ages and needs.
- Specialized foster parents provide care for children with more challenging behaviour or developmental needs.
Foster Family Month in B.C information kits: http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/foster/ffm.htm
Interested in fostering? Visit: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/foster
or call the toll-free Foster Line at 1 800 663-9999.
B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations: www.bcfosterparents.ca/
Federation of Aboriginal Foster Parents: www.fafp.ca
Photos of Foster Family Month Celebration: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjwhucce
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development