Foster Families Week 2012 was officially proclaimed by the Honourable Charlene Johnson, Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, and Ruby Ellsworth, Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Foster Families Association board, during the Annual Kick-Off event held in St. John’s yesterday (Sunday, October 21) by the Newfoundland and Labrador Foster Families Association.
Foster Families Week is a national celebration that takes place annually during the third week of October and runs this year from October 21 to 27.
“I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the 567 foster families located throughout Newfoundland and Labrador for providing safe and nurturing homes to our most vulnerable children and youth,” said Minister Johnson. “Our government recognizes the commitment and expertise of foster parents and is dedicated to supporting the vital role they continue to play as we move forward with implementation of the new continuum of care strategy.”
In Budget 2012: People and Prosperity, the Provincial Government introduced the new continuum of care strategy to enhance the care options for children and youth in need of out-of-home placement. With a total expenditure of $4.1 million in year one and an increase to $14.3 million in year two, the strategy will strengthen foster care by increasing funding for kinship arrangements and foster homes, and enhancing supports and training for foster parents. Improvements like the new four-level system will recognize the skills and training of foster parents, and children and youth will be matched to a foster home that best meets their needs.
These enhancements to foster care were developed utilizing the findings of the Foster Families Survey that is posted on the department’s website at www.gov.nl.ca/cyfs/publications/foster_family_survey.pdf. The survey, which was conducted in partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Foster Families Association and the Newfoundland and Labrador Statistics Agency, collected valuable information and input from the province’s foster parents.
“We are pleased to continue working with the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services and our collaborative efforts to date, such as the foster parents survey has yielded positive outcomes in the development of the continuum of care strategy,” said Diane Molloy, Executive Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Foster Families Association. “As we celebrate Foster Families Week this year, we are also celebrating this new strategy, which will help create a more effective foster care program in our province.”
Other important highlights in the province’s foster care program being recognized this week include: the Canadian Foster Families Association Conference in St. John’s this past June, which brought together foster parents and social workers from all provinces and territories to discuss best practices in foster care; and, the development of an upcoming foster parent recruitment campaign.
“As there is a critical need for more foster homes throughout our province, it is essential that we increase awareness about foster care and the supports our government provides to foster families to help care for children and youth,” said Minister Johnson. “I look forward to rolling out the campaign in the coming weeks and anticipate that it will resonate with current foster parents as well as encourage new foster parents to come forward.”
For further information about Foster Families Week or becoming a foster parent, contact a local Child, Youth and Family Services office or the provincial department at 709-729-7185. Information is also available through the Newfoundland and Labrador Foster Families Association toll-free at 1-877-754-0218.