By Stephanie Cadieux
Minister of Children and Family Development
When families struggle - whether due to conflicts, substance misuse, illness or because they require specialized care for a child with complex needs - it's comforting to know there are safe havens available for the children and teens who have nowhere else to turn.
Every day in British Columbia, more than 3,100 foster families open their hearts and their homes to some of society's most vulnerable young people.
Foster families give stability in the midst of chaos; they provide a safe place in which to live, develop, grow and play; they offer an open door just when it seems all other doors have closed.
October is Foster Family Month in B.C., and there is no better time than now to consider what it means to be a foster parent.
Foster families can help create the foundation a vulnerable child or teen needs in order to develop into a confident adult.
They are part of a team that helps young people to return to their families, live with extended family or make the transition to an adoptive family.
Whether they provide emergency, short or long-term care, foster families play a crucial part in the lives of thousands of young British Columbians.
It's an influence and a connection that can last a lifetime, a notion highlighted by the fact that more than one in three children in government care who are adopted are adopted by their foster family.
Foster parents come from all walks of life. They each bring different experiences to the role, and they each have different reasons for doing the work they do, yet they all share one very important thing in common: they are ordinary people engaged in extraordinary acts of kindness.
Not everyone can be a foster parent - it takes a very special person to perform this important service. And the reality is that there is always a need for more families who are willing to embrace the joys and the challenges of this role.
I ask that you encourage anyone who might be interested in foster parenting to call the Foster Line at 1 800 663-9999 for more information.
To the thousands of foster families who make such a real and lasting difference in the lives of B.C. children and youth, thank you for your selflessness, your commitment and your determination to create a better future for our province.
Foster 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 5,250 children and youth are placed with approximately 3,100 foster families throughout the province.
Thirty-five per cent of the children in government care who are adopted are adopted by their foster family.
There is always a need for more foster parents 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 are related to or know.
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.