[Originally published August 19, 2015]
The Ministry of Children and Family Development is looking to up their bank of qualified foster homes in the area.
Michael McFetridge is the team lead for the MCFD in Terrace and says they’re always looking for more families to join the program.
“We need as many [families] as we can get,” said McFetridge.
It’s not, he emphasizes, that there’s an endless flood of children in the foster program, but he said the foster program works best when there’s a large pool of families to match a child’s need.
“We look at the caregiver skill set and then we look at the needs of the child or children, and do a best match. That’s how it’s supposed to work,” he said, adding that with the current size of the foster family pool they don’t have quite the flexibility they’d want.
For example a family may say they do better with toddler-aged children, or they may have done specialized training such as for fetal alcohol syndrome. That helps MCFD match the child to the most appropriate home.
So how do people get involved?
First, they call the area contact for this, Ikinder Chohan, who can be reached at 250-638-2325, or e-mailed at Ikinder.Chohan@gov.bc.ca.
After that a process called the Pre-Service Orientation begins.
“It’s a series of educational meetings,” said Fetridge.
Those meetings are delivered by Access Family Resources, a contracted service provider for MCFD.
It’s a way to just introduce people to the foster program, and then to connect them with other families, all on the way to figuring out best how they can be involved.
McFetridge says they make people as aware as possible to what fostering is like, then the family can make a decision after that.
It’s a thorough process.
“The screening process is much more thorough than people remember it being. So many say ‘I remember my grandmother was a foster parent. She just called up and the next day we had kids in our home.’ Maybe that was the case back then…but that’s definitely not the case now,” he said.
Parents have flexibility on their commitment too as far as time. Families can say they only want short term foster children, or can offer their home on a permanent basis.
Financially the program is not meant to be a burden on the foster family. McFetridge says families are provided support so being a foster parent doesn’t mean drained bank accounts.
“It should never cost foster parents to support vulnerable children,” said McFetridge.
He says the way to look at being a foster parent is not to see it as a job but doing a volunteer service.
“You’re a volunteer parent,” he said.