With new foster homes needed in the North Okanagan, Okanagan Foster Parents Association (OFPA) is hosting “Introduction to Fostering” classes. Adults who want to make a difference in the lives of children and families are invited to attend.
Anna Verleg and her husband began fostering more than 15 years ago, when their own children were pre-teens. They believe that fostering is about helping families rebuild and repair.
“Fostering doesn’t come without its challenges, but I know from experience that even if you only have them for a short time, you do make a difference one family and child at a time,” said Anna.
Most foster parents are ordinary people who care about children and youth.
“I am constantly amazed by all that foster parents do for children,” said Noelle Typusiak, foster parent coordinator in the Vernon area. “Most come to fostering with only their desire to help, but they develop the ability to meet the special needs that many foster children have.”
OFPA and the Ministry of Children and Family Development work together to provide foster families with training, support and reimbursement.
Typusiak said there is also a need for people who come to fostering with specialized skills, as some children have exceptional medical or behavioural needs that require experienced caregivers.
“Young adults, with training related to children, become excellent foster parents,” she said. “Those who retire from jobs in education, child care or the medical field also find fostering is a good way to use their experience in a way that meets their new life style.”
There were more than 200 children and youth in foster care in the Vernon area, which includes, Armstrong, Falkland and Lumby. Children come into foster care for many different reasons, but all need a safe, loving home. Most children stay only for a short time, while others may stay for years, or move on to adoption. Some children need respite care: a surrogate aunt or uncle who will care for them for a weekend or two every month.
Foster parents can be any age; be single or married; have their own children, have no children, or have grown children. They care for children of all ages, from birth to 18. There is need for foster parents who will care for one child, as well as for foster parents who have room for family groups of three or more.
Kara Simpson and her family have fostered for more than 15 years and feel honoured to have cared for many infants and young children.
“I am trusted to take in society’s most helpless and vulnerable and start them off right, feeling security, love, caring and attachment,” she said. “These beings are completely dependent on the first people in their lives and I can’t think of anything else I could do as a career that would make me feel so important.
“It is deeply satisfying to be able to wake up every day (and often several times a night!) and do something you love.”
People in the North Okanagan who want to learn more about the responsibilities and rewards of fostering are invited to register for an “Introduction to Fostering” class on Wednesday from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. or from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the People Place.
Those who attend will be invited to attend Preservice Orientation for Foster Parents on Sept. 26. Participants will learn how to meet the needs of children who come into foster care and how the foster care system works.
For more information, and to register, please contact Okanagan Foster Parents Association at 250-558-0939 or email firstname.lastname@example.org