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Celebrating foster and kinship caregivers in October

Foster families and kinship month is being celebrated to honour foster and kinship caregivers for the role they undertake in the lives of children who would otherwise be left without a home.

Associate Executive Director Melissa Jones, who has been with the Alberta Foster and Kinship Association for nine years says it’s been a rewarding yet challenging time as well as a period of personal growth.

Jones says the month does not have a theme, but rather they highlight their continuous mantra that, ‘It’s All About Kids.’

“When we recognize caregivers for that role that they have and we recognize all that they do to rise to the challenge and do what’s best for kids, that’s been our focus for this particular time. You know it’s been even more challenging with the pandemic to achieve some of those goals.”

The Alberta Foster and Kinship Association has roots dating back some 47 years to when it was incorporated in 1974. Jones says the vision embraced the need to support foster and kinship caregivers, as well as advocacy and recruitment of new caregivers. She defines the main difference between foster care and kinship care as being someone the child already knows and has a connection with.

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“Kinship care is a family member or a community member. It could be an extended family member that has a child who has been apprehended in their care and is providing that care for the child. It’s usually somebody that the child knows or has a relationship with.”

The Association has numerous programs including mentorship, legal, insurance, as well as bursaries and even recognition of caregiver awards that will be handed out later this month.

Jones speaks to the importance of celebrating the dedication of foster and kinship caregivers going forward.

“Recognizing the good work that is done in foster care and kinship care and highlighting those good things. We have a lot of things that have been brought to light through truth and reconciliation, that have created many opportunities for learning about empathy, compassion and awareness.”

She noted that with truth and reconciliation comes introspection on every level of service delivery.

“Just ensuring that, people know that not only the Ministry of Children Services needs to make significant changes with their roles and responsibilities as a result of the truth and reconciliation, but caregivers have needed to do the same as well. And so many have demonstrated the dedication to that continuous learning and evolving their individual understanding of Indigenous culture.”

Jones looked at the bigger picture moving forward as involving building those relationships with stakeholders including Indigenous communities.

The Alberta Foster and Kinship Association is holding its 47th ‘It’s All About Kids Conference’ from October 28-30.

Anyone wanting more information on the work of the association can click on this link to their website.

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