November 7, 2017
The Placement Resource Team at Dufferin Child and Family Services is aiming to recruit 10 foster families by March 2018, given a decrease in local foster families.
“The decrease in available foster families is being experienced across Ontario,” said Kristy Dayler, Placement Resource Worker, Dufferin Child and Family Services “and Dufferin County is no exception. The steady decline in foster families in Dufferin County is not an isolated issue; what we need to try to do is act now and recruit more foster families so that we can get ahead of this critical issue.”
The decline is the result of many factors, such as long-time foster parents retiring and more foster families adopting or obtaining custody of the children and youth they were once fostering.
The child protection service at DCAFS has responded to 605 referrals concerning the well-being of children, youth and their families since April 1, 2017. DCAFS takes a strengths based approach to working with families, and do everything possible to support reducing risks while children and youth remain in the care of their parents. Aligned with provincial statistics, in only 2-4% of the concerns reported are children and youth removed from the care of their parents. These are extreme situations, and those children deserve the ability to remain as connected as possible to their community.
Without enough foster homes in Dufferin County, children and youth are at a higher risk of being placed in group homes or with private foster care operators, outside of their communities. “This is not ideal; every child and youth deserves the opportunity to live with a family within their community,” said Dayler. Keeping children and youth within their communities is paramount for DCAFS.
Wherever possible, children need to have access to their school community, their friends, recreational activities, and extended family DCAFS wants to do everything possible to minimize the loss they are experiencing by keeping children and youth connected to their community.
“We want our foster families to reflect the diverse nature of what it means to be a family. DCAFS is open to foster parents from a diverse range of family types, including but not limited to, people who have never parented or people who may be empty nesters, single applicants, couples, same-sex couples, or retired persons. Anyone can apply to foster. We certainly encourage people to call and speak with me, I’m happy to answer any questions they may have,” said Dayler.
DCAFS needs foster homes for all ages, including homes that would care for siblings. Foster parents are provided with 27 hours of training before they begin fostering. They continue to receive ongoing training and financial support throughout their time as foster parents.
Foster parents are also assigned a resource worker for support, in addition to the child or youth’s own worker. “We also connect our foster parents to each other, so no one is ever alone in this journey. Foster parents are part of a team who are helping to plan and care for a child,” said Kristy.
Although they might not realize it at the time, foster parents should never underestimate the influence they have on a child. “Children and youth learn they are part of a community that cares about them, they feel supported and connected and that can have life altering effects for them,” said Dayler.
Call Dufferin Child and Family Services at 519-941-1530 to learn more.