The Saskatchewan Foster Families Association (SFFA) is asking anyone in Regina to consider fostering as it’s seen an increase of children in need.
“There are babies and sibling groups in Regina that also need a safe and loving home,” said Deb Davies, the executive director for the SFFA.
According to the SFFA, despite a recent increase in foster homes across Saskatchewan, there has been a steady decline in the overall number of foster families in the past five years.
The organization noted the difficulty in finding enough foster families is noticeable in most jurisdictions across North America.
Last year, the association launched its “Foster New Beginnings” campaign, with advertising and outreach to human service organizations to raise awareness of the need for more foster families.
“The initial campaigns targeted communities throughout Saskatchewan and, as a result, we have increased the number of foster families in those areas and across the entire province,” Davies said.
Now the public awareness campaign has come to Regina. The SFFA hopes people are able to foster not only babies, but also children and their siblings in order to keep families together.
The community-based organization offers a wide range of support and training for people who are thinking about or ready to become a foster parent.
“Just under a year ago, we began providing our world-class training program for foster parents online,”
In a news release Tuesday, Social Services Minister Paul Merriman noted Saskatchewan was the first province in Canada to provide online training for foster parents. Merriman said the program, which started nearly a year ago, has resulted in an increase of homes approved for foster care.
“However, the need for more foster families remains significant,” he said. “I urge Regina-area residents to look into fostering. There really is no better way to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.”
Foster parent describes challenges, rewards
Cameron Nordin and his wife, Marian, have been foster parents for nearly 25 years. They’ve kept a list of all the babies they have cared for, and the list is now up to 70.
“My wife loves the babies, and it’s her passion in life and she just felt that it was one thing that she could do for society,” Nordin told 980 CJME.
“I would say that to see the conditions that they come from, if we can be of any help at all to get them over a hump, is why we do it.”
The long-time foster parent was honest about the challenges that come with taking care of vulnerable children. Nordin explained it can be especially difficult in cases where babies are born with health issues linked to substance abuse during pregnancy.
“There are some pretty sad situations and, like I say, those children never asked to come into the world but there they are. It’s not their fault,” Nordin said.
He cautioned that fostering is a huge commitment and responsibility and everyone in the family must be on board to make that choice.
Nordin added prospective foster parents should be prepared to deal with red tape and bureaucracy.
“It’s an absolute pleasure working with the social workers, I think that’s important,” he said. “They do a fantastic job and nobody really understands the stress that they go through in their work.”
He added the focus should always be on the children and giving them a chance.
In a few cases where the family has kept in touch, he said it does make him feel like they made a difference.
For Nordin and his wife, the hardest part is saying goodbye when the time comes for the babies they care for to move on, however, he said training does prepare foster parents for the inevitable.
For more information about foster families in Saskatchewan, or what is required to become a foster parent, contact the SFFA at 1-800-667-7002 or visit their website.
– With files from 980 CJME’s Adriana Christianson and Jessika Guse.