The Saskatchewan Foster Families Association and the Ministry of Social Services are kicking off a community drive in Yorkton and area to encourage interested individuals and families to learn more about becoming a foster home for vulnerable infants and young children in need.
The drive includes billboards, advertising, direct mail and outreach to human service organizations, such as places of worship and community organizations. As with almost all other jurisdictions across Canada and the United States, Saskatchewan has seen a steady decrease in the number of foster homes. While the decline provincially in approved foster homes over the past four years is just under 35 per cent, Yorkton’s decline over the same time period is almost 50 per cent.
“The situation in Yorkton is becoming acute,” Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor said. “That’s why we are moving forward with this community outreach campaign over the next month to get the word out and ask that people step up and take on this wonderful, challenging, fulfilling and vital role. Many different types of individuals and families could potentially be a good fit.”
The Saskatchewan Foster Families Association is the community based organization that provides support for prospective and approved foster parents across Saskatchewan. They also jointly deliver training with the Ministry of Social Services through an internationally recognized, comprehensive program called the PRIDE model, which is then used in an ongoing manner to support foster families in providing a home environment that is safe, caring and respectful. The organization also employs approximately 160 people across the province to aid in that training, and to provide in-home supports for foster families.
“I can’t promise becoming a foster parent is easy, but I know from experience it’s one of the most rewarding and meaningful things you can do,” Saskatchewan Foster Families Association Executive Director Deb Davies said. “I first became a foster parent 35 years ago and I have to say that over that time period, the program has very much evolved into a sophisticated and highly supportive mechanism to provide the best care for vulnerable children while their families are in crisis. The one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that the program is based on individuals and families helping other families.”
To address declining foster family numbers, the Government of Saskatchewan has also been developing new approaches to better support vulnerable families to return children home safely and identifying extended family members who are able to act as alternate care providers. Foster families remain the most important resource for families in crisis, and work is being done to better retain existing families while recruiting new individuals.
For more information and to learn more about foster families in Saskatchewan or what is required to become a foster parent, please call the Saskatchewan Foster Families Association at 1-800-667-7002 or visit their website at http://www.sffa.sk.ca