October is Foster Family Month and the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) will be holding a number of events to support North Island foster families in the coming months.
In a letter to the Village of Port Alice, Katrine Conroy, Minister for MCFD, said that “it is the month that we acknowledge and celebrate foster caregivers for their invaluable support and commitment to children and youth placed in their care.” She added that the province has a new recruitment campaign which launched on Oct. 1.
The recruitment campaign – FosterNow.ca – will ensure support for “a vibrant and growing community of foster caregivers to meet the needs of British Columbia’s children and youth in care into the future,” the letter stated.
Nicki Ranger, team leader at the local MCFD office, said the ministry has “made a concerted effort to do foster family-focused events for about five years. We’ve always done events but really made a focus on trying to bring foster families together, so that people aren’t fostering in isolation in the North Island.”
She mentioned that MCFD tries to do three to four events a year with a swim in the spring, a skate during the winter, and a picnic in the fall. She also added that during the foster family appreciation month there will also be a special event.
“We have invited all foster families to get together at the Quatse Stewardship Centre,” Ranger explained about the event held earlier this month. She noted that the event included a lunch, along with children exploring the centre. The foster families also had a tour of the centre with children learning about local salmon species.
She said that it’s about “getting the kids together and foster parents together, so the kids can play and the foster parents can connect. It brings them together and lets foster parents realize they’re not fostering alone and that they have a network of people around them.”
The local MCFD office covers Port Hardy, Port McNeill, and surrounding North Island areas. The ministry has about 100 North Island children in care within about 35 foster homes.
Ranger concluded that the ministry “really needs foster parents on the North Island” since many of the foster parents are reaching retirement age. MCFD also wants to fill other gaps by having a wide variety of foster parents with a blend of different foster families to meet the children’s needs. If any person is interested Ranger emphasized that they should contact MCFD or visit their website for more information.
Across the province, as of September 31, 2018, there were a total of 4,455 children and youth in foster care. There are about 2,585 family-based foster homes in BC with an “ever-present need for more foster families” according to MCFD. MCFD also noted that “there are 3,018 Indigenous children in foster care.”