Foster home shortage spurs CAS campaign
By Robert Mackenzie
Published July 11, 2017
The Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society has launched a new campaign in order to curb their “urgent” need for foster parents.
The Fostering Changes Futures campaign, which launched this July, is being implemented in order to find new homes for a rising number of foster children coming into their care, especially teens.
“What we’re seeing in terms of some of the children who are coming into care is a complexity of needs, sibling groups, and they sometimes prove challenging to place within our system,” said Wendy Gordon, resource supervisor at KHCAS.
And while the number of children coming into their care increases, KHCAS says the number of homes made available to foster children has decreased from 146 to 108 over the past five years. According to the society, only 10 of those 108 homes will accept children over the age of 12 – six of those 10 are full, while the other four already have one foster child.
“When a child can’t be with their natural family and need alternate care for a period of time, the availability of strong care providers to be there for these children is critical,” said Tania Nanni, KHCAS’s volunteer and foster parent co-ordinator.
“Having a variety of families available to provide that care for our children is really important because every child’s needs are different. We need that wide scope of families available to meet those varying needs.”
As of April, KHCAS had 231 children in their care. Of those children, 29 were over the age of 12 and had to be placed in group or outside paid foster care not associated with the society.
Gordon says teens often have a harder time finding homes because of the complex needs, such as mental and behavioural issues, of children that age. “It proves challenging for some families and they don’t feel like they’re prepared to be able to welcome those children into their homes,” Gordon said.
“So we’re trying to increase homes for those youth so that we have that ability...to place within our area.”
The campaign has set out the goal to recruit 20 approved foster families by March 2018, with six of those families willing to take in children over the age of 12.
Gordon says the campaign’s goal will help them place children within their own internal system, so that they don’t have to go to outside communities to find care.
“We want children to stay in their own community,” Gordon said. The society will be running radio ads featuring two foster parents and one former foster child throughout the summer and fall in order to promote the campaign and allow the public to hear about the rewards of fostering, and the contribution fostering families make on a child’s life.
“In my work with foster parents I’ve heard them speak of the great rewards for their family,” Nanni said. “They speak often of being a care provider, offering their children to learn compassion and caring for our fellow community, and giving back and sharing the family life that they enjoy with another child.”
Those interested in learning more about the campaign can go to www.khcas.on.ca.