More Foster Families Needed in Ontario



    TORONTO, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - During Foster Family Week, the Ontario
Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS) and its member agencies
recognize families who give of their time and themselves by nurturing and
fostering vulnerable children and youth.
    "Foster families provide a precious gift to children in care. They share
their love, their home and their family with our most vulnerable children,"
said Jeanette Lewis, Executive Director of the OACAS. "Foster Family Week is a
good time to recognize those caring families who open their homes and their
hearts to children who have suffered maltreatment and need a stable, loving
home."
    Last year, 58.5% of children in the care of Ontario's Children's Aid
Societies were placed with a foster family while 16.1% were placed in group
homes, 4.4% with adoptive families, 5.3% with kinship families and 15.8% were
living on their own. With 7,700 foster families in Ontario, there are still
not enough homes available to provide temporary shelter to all the children
coming into care who cannot remain with their families.
    Since 2000, when neglect was added to the Child and Family Services Act,
the number of foster families has increased only marginally (14%) while the
number of children in need of protection increased 24%. More foster families
who can provide safe, loving, secure homes to the vulnerable children who come
into the care of Ontario's Children's Aid Societies are needed. There is an
urgent need for foster families for teenagers, as only 60% of all youth in
care aged 13 to 15 years are in a foster family setting, and for younger
children and sibling groups. There is also a pressing need for foster families
from diverse backgrounds and ethno-cultural communities.
    "Fostering brings caring and compassionate people and the kids who need
them together," said Cecile Brookes, President of the Foster Parents Society
of Ontario. "Fostering is a rewarding experience, a chance to make a
difference one child at a time. We need more extraordinary people to consider
becoming foster parents, to be a safe harbour to children and youth in need."
    Ontario's Children's Aid Societies work very hard to help children remain
with their families. Last year, more than 44,000 Ontario families received
child welfare services and parenting supports from a Children's Aid Society to
cope with stress, poverty, addiction or mental health problems. When children
cannot remain at home because of serious concerns about their safety and
protection, they come into the care of a child welfare agency that makes every
effort to give a family and a home to every child in need of protection. Last
year, Ontario's Children's Aid Societies provided substitute care for 29,000
children.
    Foster parents work closely with Children's Aid Societies to provide
temporary care to children for a few days, a week, several months or possibly
years. They also prepare children for reunification with their biological
family, adoption or long-term foster care. Children's Aid Societies support
foster families through assessment, training and education, ongoing assistance
as well as financial supports for the child's care, food and clothing.
    If you are considering fostering, please contact your local Children's
Aid Society for more information or visit www.oacas.org.

    OACAS is a membership organization representing Children's Aid Societies
in Ontario. Since 1912, the OACAS has provided services in the areas of
advocacy, government relations, communications, youth in care, information
management, education and training, accreditation and member outreach. OACAS
is the voice of child welfare in Ontario.





For further information:

For further information: Marcelo Gomez-Wiuckstern, Communications
Manager, Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, (416) 987-9648,
www.oacas.org

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Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies

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