Foster Families an invaluable resource
The Newfoundland and Labrador Foster Families Association has set aside October 19-25 as Foster Families Week. This is an opportunity to recognize the contributions of foster families to society, particularly to children, and to plan strategies for improving the standard of care for children throughout the province.
The Department of Human Resources and Employment would like to acknowledge the important contribution foster parents make to the development of children. In recognition of the need for increased and improved foster parent education, the Department of Human Resources and Employment allocated funding for the research, development and design of a training program for foster parents. The curriculum for the Foster Parents Education Program is expected to be complete by January 1998.
Gerri Howlett, president, Avalon Foster Families Association, said that the child will be the ultimate benefactor of this program. "Foster families must have special knowledge and skills to meet the complex needs of the children placed in their homes," said Ms. Howlett. "We have children who come into our care with very unique challenges, so it's encouraging that the department is focusing on the need to train and educate foster parents."
The Minister of Human Resources and Employment, Julie Bettney, believes it's important that government partner with community-based agencies like the Newfoundland and Labrador Foster Families Association. She said that foster parents face many challenges in providing care for children and that they should be recognized for their contribution to the community.
There are currently 450 foster homes in the province. Foster care statistics reveal that 60 per cent of the children in care are over the age of 12. This reflects a change in population in that historically, children admitted into care were of preschool age. As of March 1997 there were 748 children in foster care. In addition to being placed in foster homes, these children also reside in group homes and individualized living arrangements.