The Saskatchewan Foster Families Association (SFFA) wants to encourage more families to open their homes and hearts to support children who need a safe place to live.
The association has launched an awareness campaign called ‘Fostering New Beginnings,’ with the aim of recruiting more foster families to meet demand across the province.
The campaign has a particular focus on the Regina area where an influx of young children have come into the foster care system over the last few years.
According to provincial statistics, there were 5,257 children in out-of-home care at the end of March 2018, including 1,980 who were in the care of extended family members.
There are currently 500 foster families in the province and 227 children living in foster homes with more than four children.
SFFA executive director Deb Davies said spending 28 years fostering children was the most challenging and rewarding experience of her life.
When asked about the challenge of recruiting more foster parents in the midst of many negative headlines about the foster care system, Davies said she wishes there could be more of a focus on the positives.
“There have been a lot of children and a lot of families that have benefited from those supports, and again our supports are about families helping families,” Davies commented.
Protests over the summer brought more attention to the over-representation of Indigenous children in foster care.
In response to those issues, Davies would only say the SFFA is trying to reach out to people from all cultures and walks of life to encourage them to apply to become foster parents in order to help their communities.
Davies said there are times when children do need out-of-home care and that’s where foster families come in to support them.
“It’s not about taking children away, it’s about supporting their families because children should be living with their families in their communities when it’s safe.”
While becoming a foster parent is a huge commitment and comes with many challenges, Davies said it’s also an incredibly rewarding way to help children.
For her part, Davies said being a foster parent opened her eyes.
“I felt that I now have had a better understanding of the struggles that families have every day and have really, I guess, better insight of how I can help my community,” Davies said. “We have to strengthen our communities, our families – because our children are our future and that’s something that we all have a responsibility for in our communities – to assist and support children.”
She encouraged anyone who might be interested to contact the SFFA even if they feel hesitant, because the organization can answer questions.