NOTE: The following is a feature story on Foster Family Appreciation Week, Oct. 15-21
“I could never do what you do. I could never take care of a child and let them go.”
Maureen, a foster parent for the past 12 years, says that’s the one statement that foster parents hear all the time. “The truth is that it’s the hardest part of our job. It’s the part that we lose the most sleep over, but it is also the most rewarding.”
Foster Family Appreciation Week, Oct. 15-21, is an opportunity to recognize the many Nova Scotians who open their hearts and homes to children in need of temporary care. Today, there are about 630 foster families providing safety, comfort, and security to vulnerable Nova Scotian children who would otherwise have nowhere to turn.
Nova Scotia needs more people who can provide a safe, loving, and nurturing environment for children in need of temporary homes. It is important to have foster families that reflect the province’s diversity to ensure children maintain their language and culture.
Whether it’s on a full- or part-time basis, foster parents are needed in every region of the province. Children in care have often been through a lot of stress and strife in their young lives. Sometimes they have to move out of their own community, which can create even more upheaval for them. For example, there are children in Cape Breton who have to leave the island because there are no placements for them close to home.
“Who you are is what these children need,” said Kelly Regan, Community Services Minister. “Families take many forms, but what children need most of all is a loving home. I encourage all Nova Scotians to visit our website, and consider becoming a foster parent. You’ll be doing a world of good to a child in need.”
Community Services is changing how it supports foster parents who give their time and love to children when they need it most. As of Aug. 1, government increased the daily per diem rate per child, aligned the babysitting rate with minimum wage, and introduced an automatic payment of $50 per child per month for transportation costs.
The changes are meant to bring foster care in line with today’s costs of caring for children and youth. For example, the previous babysitting rate of $4 per hour, per child was in place for over two decades.
“The amounts may seem small to those looking in from the outside; however, they help to reduce some of the stresses our foster parents and social workers face on a regular basis,” said Nattie, a former child in care.
“These changes are in addition to many others over the past number of years which included some major modifications to legislation that personally benefited our situation. The changes, and many of those in the past, allow for more time and effort to be put into working directly with families and children who require supports instead of time wasted on tracking down payments and paperwork.”
Wendell Fraser, chair of the Federation of Foster Families of Nova Scotia board of directors, also welcomes the changes. “The monthly auto-payment will go to every home that has a child in their care. This is also one less expense that a foster parent has to submit and then wait for reimbursement.”
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a full- or part-time foster parent, go to fostercare.novascotia.ca and find out about an upcoming information session in your area.