The Social Services Ministry plans to implement a new mentorship programme to further encourage persons to foster a child. The programme will be implemented in the first quarter in the next year.
In an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Foster Care Manager, Colleen Khan, of the Child Protection Agency (CPA) said this new programme will provide persons with more information on the foster care process and how it works.
Khan explained that the programme is an extension of foster care but, “instead of bringing a child home to live with you and family, you can dedicate an hour, a week, or a month. Be a role model to a child’s life, particularly adolescents,” she urged.
The Foster Care Manager noted that although the department has been placing and reintegrating children into foster care, there are still many children who are not placed because persons would rather adopt. She pointed out that currently there are 200 children in foster care with approximately 109 foster parents.
“So that would suggest that there are foster parents who are caring for more than one child. We would like to have more children placed, we have over 600 children in children’s home across the country and many of them are eligible for foster care and they range from infants to 17 or 18 years old,” Khan explained.
The challenge is that many persons are not properly informed on the process. Khan explained that foster care is just a temporary care option for a child and not permanent. “It’s not an adoption where you permanently care for the child; we have foster care placement areas where it can just be for a few weeks. We may just need you for a weekend…a child has been abandon we need to place that child into care so you can be very short- term, for six months or sometimes one year,” Khan pointed out.
Meanwhile, the department for this year has conducted several outreaches and sensitisation programmes on foster care at Parent Teachers’ Meetings in several primary schools and other institutions.
“This is the sixth year the Child Care and Protection Agency is observing Foster Care month and this year it’s all about sensitisation and bringing awareness. We’ve been using newspaper, television, radio and they’ve been very fruitful in child protection on a whole,” Khan said.