The demand for foster families in Alberta continues to be urgent, as children from dysfunctional families continue to slip through the cracks and find themselves with no safe place to go.
Marty Klipper, a foster parent recruiter for Crossroads Family Services, said in today’s society many families lack a support system for the times when family difficulties are being settled.
“All too often families are now living isolated from their extended family and support circle. If someone isn’t able to parent, their kids used to go to their grandparents, or to an aunt and uncle’s home. Now, families who are having trouble often don’t have family nearby to turn to so the kinship options are not always there.”
Foster families help fill the void for these children, who, through no fault of their own, find themselves without a safe place to live.
“We need to find homes within our extended community (and people) who are able to care for these children,” he said.
Crossroads, a not-for-profit, accredited agency that works under contract with the provincial government recruits, trains and supports foster parents so that the best possible care is provided to children in need.
The primary goal of the organization is to provide a child with the strength of a fully loving and caring family while allowing them to grow alongside their biological family.
“Only by working together and maintaining the healthy bonds that a child has with their biological family can the best outcome for a child be achieved, said Janet Ryan Newell, executive director of Crossroads.
“We want to honour biological families in our attitude and by maintaining the family bonds for the children in care,” she said.
However, even though foster care is designed to be a short-term option, sometimes it is not viable for the children to return to their biological family. In such situations, some foster families go on to provide permanent care.
Providing a foster home involves going through a screening process and a criminal record check. Home licensing requirements, character references and extensive training are also part of the process. While there is a tax-free per diem stipend provided to foster parents to support the child’s needs, the benefits cannot be measured in financial gain.
“A foster parent needs to be a stable, reliable, caring human being able to work with both professionals and in some cases the child’s birth family,” said Klipper.
The foster parent recruiter noted that all too often “what is broken in the foster care system” has made headlines, but he said there are many unpublished positive stories about how the system has worked.
During the last 15 years Crossroads has cared for more than 3,800 children from the Greater Edmonton, central and northern Alberta communities.
Currently more than 200 children are in the care of over 100 families but more foster families are needed and calls for placements come in daily.
Anyone interested in finding out more about fostering through Crossroads please contact Cathy or Sarah at 780- 430-7715 or 1-877-430-7715 or visit their website at www.crossroadsfs.ca