New foster homes are needed in the North Okanagan, so Okanagan Foster Parents Association (OFPA) is hosting monthly information sessions in Vernon. Adults who want to make a difference in the lives of children and families are invited to attend.
Most foster parents are ordinary people who care about children and youth.
“I am constantly amazed by all that foster parents do for children,” said Noelle Typusiak, foster parent coordinator in the Vernon area. “Most have come to fostering with only their desire to help, but they have developed the ability to meet the special needs that many foster children have.”
OFPA and the Ministry of Children and Family Development work together to provide foster families with training, support, and reimbursement.
There is also a need for people who come to fostering with specialized skills. Some children have exceptional medical or behavioural needs that require experienced caregivers.
“Young adults, with training related to children, become excellent foster parents,” said Typusiak. “Those who retire from jobs in education, child care, or the medical field also find fostering is a good way to use their experience in a way that meets their new life style.”
In November 2012 there were more than 130 children and youth in foster care in the Vernon area, which includes Armstrong, Falkland, and Lumby. Children come into foster care for many different reasons, but all need a safe, loving home. Most children stay only for a short time, while others may stay for years, or move on to adoption. Some children need respite care: a surrogate aunt or uncle who will care for them for a weekend or two every month.
Foster parents are needed in all areas, both rural and urban. Foster parents can be any age; be single or married; have their own children, have no children, or have grown children.
Foster parents care for children of all ages, from birth to 18. There is a need for foster parents who will care for one child, as well as for foster parents who have room for family groups of three or more.
Information sessions will be held Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Feb. 13 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sessions are held at the Gathering Place, #300, 3100–30th Ave. Those who attend an information session will be invited to attend Preservice Orientation for Foster Parents at the end of February. For six evenings participants will learn how to meet the needs of children who come into foster care and how the foster care system works. When these classes are completed they may apply to become foster parents.
If you have questions contact the OFPA at 250-558-0939.