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Child, Youth and Family Services
May 24, 2012

Minister Corrects Misinformation, Highlights the Importance of Foster Families

The Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, today provided further clarification on inaccuracies presented by the third party in Question Period yesterday (Wednesday, May 23) with the statement by the Member for St. John's Centre that “hundreds of children have been apprehended and placed in hotels in Alternative Living Arrangements for the last five years.”

Despite being advised by the minister that children in the care of the province have not been housed in such arrangements for an extended period, a release was subsequently issued by the third party repeating the false information.

“It is completely irresponsible for the Member for St. John's Centre to provide false information to the public in a news release after she was given the correct information during Question Period,” said Minister Johnson. “I find it astonishing and unfair to the people of this province that the third party chose to ignore facts in order to serve its own agenda with blatantly incorrect statements.”

Children are only removed as a last resort when there are no other options that will adequately protect the child in their own home. The department works with over 7,500 children and youth, 90 per cent of whom are residing in their home, with the remaining 10 per cent coming into the care of the province.

Children in care are placed with relatives or significant others in their lives as a first option and then in licensed foster homes. For children and youth who need a level of support that cannot be provided in a family environment, the department provides staffed residential care such as group homes. Alternate Living Arrangements are emergency staffed homes for children who could be placed in foster homes if one was available; however, these are not established in hotels.

On May 23 in the House of Assembly, the Provincial Government introduced a Private Member’s Resolution that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will enhance its support to foster families who safeguard the province’s most vulnerable children and youth.

"We have many wonderful foster families throughout our province who provide safe and nurturing environments to children in need," said Minister Johnson. "We need more families to consider fostering and our investments support this priority."

Through a new Continuum of Care Strategy that focuses on recruiting and retaining foster families, the Provincial Government recognizes the vital role foster families play in providing supportive, nurturing care. The strategy commits to eliminating Alternate Living Arrangements over the next two years by providing additional supports and training to recruit new foster parents.

“The Provincial Government is taking significant steps to improve the placement options available and the quality of services provided to children and youth in need of out-of-home placement,” said Minister Johnson. “In addition, the department continues to provide a range of services and supports as part of working with families to safely maintain children in their own homes. These services are directed at reducing risk to children and include: behavior management services; counseling; respite; transportation; parent skills training; family resource programming; and, child care.

In Budget 2012: People and Prosperity, a total of $18.4 million will be invested over the next two years to support the Continuum of Care Strategy to enhance the care options for children and youth in need of out-of-home placement.

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Media contact:
Michelle Hunt
Director of Communications
Department of Child, Youth and Family Services
709-729-5148, 725-1593

Private Member’s Resolution on a Strong Foster Home Care System

WHEREAS the current Government, in its 2007 Blueprint, committed to enhance and support foster parents, and followed through in 2009/10 with increased rates to foster parents;

AND WHEREAS Government committed in its 2012 Speech from the Throne to fundamental changes to our foster care system, providing greater support for foster parents, in recognition of the vital role they play;

AND WHEREAS Government worked with the Foster Families Association, and undertook a survey of every foster family, as well as a thorough review of the needs of children and youth coming into care to develop a comprehensive strategy;

AND WHEREAS Government announced the implementation of a new long term continuum of care strategy with a budget of $4.1 million in 2012/13 increasing to $14.3 million next year, to enhance the care options for children and youth in need of out of home placement;

AND WHEREAS the primary focus of these enhancements is a four level care system which is linked to the skill level required to support the needs of children and youth, and has accompanying monetary increases for foster parents which recognize their professionalism;

AND WHEREAS the components of this strategy provide enhanced supports to foster parents, including increases in funding, additional training and block funding to streamline administrative processes, ensuring children and youth are the sole focus;

AND WHEREAS this comprehensive strategy also includes increasing financial support to kinship homes, and eliminating the need for the current alternate living arrangements by implementing a quality framework for staffed residential facilities for children and youth who need this level of support;

AND WHEREAS through these efforts the Government is working to ensure children and youth in need of out of home placement receive the best options available and the highest quality of service from their social workers and foster parents;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this Honourable House praise foster parents of Newfoundland and Labrador, and commend the initiative the Provincial Government is taking to provide greater supports for foster parents in this Province, in recognition of the vital role they play in caring for the children and youth most at risk.

2012 05 24                            10:40 a.m.

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